Epidemic of diabetes takes over India

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 30, 2018
Quick Bites

  • Rates of hypertension and diabetes higher among the middle-aged and the elderly
  • Hypertension prevalence was 20 percent for women and 24.5 percent for men
  • Diabetes prevalence was 6.1 percent for women and 6.5 percent for men

A study led by the researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health suggested that rates of hypertension and diabetes seem commonplace among the middle-aged and the elderly across all geographic areas.

The researchers collected health data from 1.32 million adults in India between 2012 and 2014, which included plasma glucose and blood pressure measurements.

Overall, the hypertension prevalence was 20 percent for women and 24.5 percent for men and the diabetes prevalence was 6.1 percent for women and 6.5 percent for men, with marked variation among states.

According to the study, the prevalence of both conditions among middle-aged adults in the poorest household in rural areas was also high.

The findings suggested that hypertension was found to be higher among adults under 45 but it is also common among younger groups – 12.1% in the age group 18-25.

“Understanding how diabetes and hypertension prevalence varies within a country as large as India is essential for targeting of prevention, screening, and treatment services,” said lead author Pascal Geldsetzer, a doctoral student in the Department of Global Health and Population.

Alka Kanaya of the University of California, San Francisco, in an accompanying editorial wrote that "the new report is not only a stark warning of the looming crisis of cardiovascular diseases in India, but can also serve as a call to action for the country".

“Our study is the first to analyse nationally representative individual level blood glucose level and blood pressure data in the country. There is a need to focus on these two silent killers as well as other non-communicable diseases to reduce the burden of preventable premature morbidity and mortality. If unchecked, we will see a lot more victims of these two diseases in next two decades,” said Ashish Awasthi, co-author of the study and faculty at the Indian Institute of Public Health in Gandhinagar.

The report was published online in the US Journal JAMA Internal Medicine. 

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