India is facing significantly higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the first nationally representative study of these “major killers” involving more than 1.3 million people.
The rates of diabetes and hypertension are high among middle-aged and elderly people across all geographic measures and sociodemographic groups in India, researchers found.
The study, led by researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, also found unexpectedly high rates of hypertension among young adults.
“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 Pascal Geldsetzer, lead author of the study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
India, home to more than a sixth of the world’s population, is in the midst of a rapid epidemiological transition, researchers said.
Rates of noncommunicable diseases have risen in recent decades and are likely to continue as India’s population ages and urbanises, they said.
Meanwhile, many areas of India still face substantial burdens of infectious diseases and poor maternal and child health.
The researchers wanted to find out how the prevalence of diabetes and hypertension in India varied by state, rural vs urban location, and by sociodemographic characteristics such as education and household wealth.
They used health data collected from 1,320,555 adults across India between 2012 and 2014, which included plasma glucose and blood pressure measurements.
The findings showed that diabetes and hypertension were prevalent across all geographies and sociodemographic groups.
Overall, prevalence of diabetes was 6.1 per cent among women and 6.5 per cent among men; for hypertension, 20.0 per cent among women and 24.5 per cent among men.
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