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Govt aims to treat nearly 150mn high BP patients over next four years

PUBLISHED ON JUL 31, 2019 10:28 PM IST

New Delhi: India aims to treat at least 150 million people with high blood pressure (BP) with medicine across 100 districts over the next four years. Uncontrolled hypertension or high BP is a leading risk factor for heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

According to government data, an estimated 200 million adults nationwide have high BP, but 50% of them are totally clueless about it.

Last year, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with World Health Organization (WHO), had launched India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI) in 25 districts across five states, which will be expanded to 100 districts over the next four years.

“The national action plan targets reducing the number of people with uncontrolled hypertension by 25% by the year 2025.The IHCI is a model initiative towards that as prevention and treatment is far safer and less expensive than bypass surgery and regular dialysis,” said Dr Balram Bhargava, director general, ICMR.

Under the IHCI, every person above 30 years of age walking into a primary health centre or a sub-centre and also health and wellness centres will be screened for high blood pressure. The five states that are already screening people under the programme, and have registered about 3 lakh people in the past one year are Telangana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala.

“India has a huge disease burden wherein one in four suffers from hypertension. What’s worse, however, is that only one in 10 of those has blood pressure under control. It puts a large number of people under the risk of sudden heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr Meenakshi Sharma, scientist, ICMR, who is involved with the project.

As part of the project, the staff at primary health centres and sub-centres have been extensively trained in screening people above 30 years using digital monitors.

People with blood pressure readings of 140/90mmHg or above are being put on blood pressure medicines on the basis of a standard treatment protocol that the states have designed with the help of experts from ICMR and WHO. The expansion plan targets at least two districts in each state.

“Putting almost 180 million people on treatment is a huge task. There will be challenges like stopping patients from dropping out of the programme etc., so the staff has also been trained to counsel patients,” said Dr Prabhdeep Kaur, head, non-communicable diseases division, National Institute of Epidemiology.

“It will strengthen the cardiovascular component of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke,” Dr Bhargava said.

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