On the occasion of World Heart Day, leading public health experts and women doctors called for immediate policy interventions to prevent a hypertension epidemic in India. In a webinar organized by the Family Planning Association of India, the experts highlighted that hypertension is disproportionately affecting women in India due to the numerous socio-cultural and economic factors which limit their access to diagnostic facilities and timely treatment.
Eminent speakers at the event included Dr. Sanghamitra Ghosh (Secretary General, IPHA, Kolkata), Dr. Rathnamala Desai (President, FPA India), Dr. Daksha Shah (Deputy Executive Health Officer, MCGM), Dr. Kalpana Apte (Secretary General, FPA India) and Dr. Ajit Menon (Interventional Cardiologist, Mumbai). They discussed the growing problem of hypertension, how it could be addressed, why women did not avail treatment, what measures could be employed to enable them to do so and ways to ensure treatment adherence.
According to the WHO, 63% Indians suffer from non-communicable diseases of which 27% can be attributed to cardiovascular ailments. Hypertension continues to be the main reason behind cardiac diseases in India, yet there is a lack of awareness around it, an absence of appropriate primary care and poor follow up. One in five women (aged 15–49 years) in India suffer from hypertension but remain undiagnosed. Hypertension causes the walls of the blood vessels to thicken affecting the blood flow to the heart. It also causes cholesterol deposits in the arteries, increasing the chance of stroke.