3 out of every 4 individual in South India get BP measured, and governments make sure of it

A recent study by Bengaluru-based ICMR-NCDIR, finds that 75.8 percent of people in South India get the BP measured. 

BySumit Jha

Published Apr 10, 2024 | 8:00 AMUpdatedApr 10, 2024 | 8:00 AM

3 out of every 4 individual in South India get BP measured, and governments make sure of it

Blood pressure, hypertension, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), heart attacks, and massive heart attacks are all the words we hear every other day when we discuss health with our friends and family.

Also, it is estimated that between 1990-2019, 64.9 percent of all deaths in India were attributed to NCDs. Among them, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) alone contributed to 27.4 percent of the total mortality.

But, to determine if any person is suffering from any heart disease, the person needs to get their blood pressure (BP) checked.

A recent study by the Bengaluru-based Indian Council of Medical Research-National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (ICMR-NCDIR) has found that three out of 10 individuals in the age group of 18-54 never get their BP measured.

However, the South Indian states have fared well, with only one out of four individuals not getting their BP measured, while 75.8 percent of people do so.

BP measurement is crucial for the effective diagnosis, prevention, and control of hypertension — a leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and preventable death.

The importance of accurate BP measurement lies in its ability to ensure the timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment of hypertension, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular events and improving health outcomes.

Also Read: Do you know which exercises help maintain healthy blood pressure?

BP measurement in southern states

More people in the southern part of India have had their blood pressure checked compared to the northern part.

States and Union Territories (UTs) in the south like Lakshadweep (90.8 percent), Kerala (88.5 percent), Tamil Nadu (83.3 percent), and Puducherry (83.2 percent), have particularly high rates of people getting their BP measured.

The researchers analysed data from the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) on 743,067 adults aged 18-54 years. The sample consisted of 87.6 percent females and 12.4 percent males.

Some districts in southern states like Kannur in Kerala had 93.6 percent of people getting their BP measured. Other districts in Kerala — like Kozhikode, Malappuram, and Wayanad — also have more than 90 percent of people getting their BP measured.

Meanwhile, the Tiruppur and Coimbatore districts of Tamil Nadu also have more than 90 percent of people getting their BP checked.

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The reasons

The researcher pointed out that education and wealth played important roles, with higher educational attainment associated with a higher likelihood of blood pressure measurement.

“Wealthier individuals had increased odds of blood pressure measurement, prehypertension and raised blood pressure, which is consistent with findings from previous studies. This reflects the influence of economic status on healthcare access and lifestyle factors,” said the study.

It added that alcohol consumption was associated with higher odds of measured blood pressure and raised-blood-pressure prevalence.

“General and central obesity, along with raised blood glucose levels, were consistently associated with higher odds of raised blood pressure aligning with numerous studies conducted in India that have examined the impact of alcohol consumption, tobacco use, obesity, and elevated blood glucose levels on ever measured blood pressure, prevalence of prehypertension, and raised blood pressure,” said the study.

Related: Kerala, TN best at controlling blood pressure, says a new Lancet study

What has worked?

Speaking to South First, a district medical official from Malappuram said the high rate of BP measurement in Kerala was also because of the policy the state follows.

“There is a protocol in place to screen every adult above 18 years old for blood pressure. Whether it’s at a Primary Health Centre in the community or a general hospital, doctors are advised to measure both blood pressure and weight,” said the medical officer.

“This is done for two reasons: First, to identify if a person is already suffering from any NCD or is at risk of developing one. Second, to implement measures that can help prevent such diseases,” he explained.

Similarly, the Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam (MTM) scheme in Tamil Nadu is playing a role in screening for hypertension amongst the populace.

“To extend hypertension care to every corner and household, the government initiated the MTM scheme in 2021,” said Coimbatore’s Government Headquarters Hospital’s Chief Civil Surgeon Dr S Seralathan.

“This scheme is designed to enhance early screening of hypertension, enhance access to healthcare services, and decrease the financial burden on patients,” he told South First.

He added that key activities under the scheme included home-based screening and doorstep delivery of medications by female health volunteers.

According to recent data from Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 55.1 lakh new cases of hypertension and 26.15 lakh cases of diabetes and hypertension have been diagnosed in the past two years.

Seralathan also pointed out that a survey conducted by the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Reforms Project in 2020 indicated that the prevalence of hypertension among the adult population of Tamil Nadu stood at 33.9 percent.

“After this, the government decided to start the MTM scheme to reduce these numbers,” he explained.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)