WHO report highlights challenges faced by Indians in controlling blood pressure

WHO report exposes alarming lack of awareness and urges action as India grapples with a high blood pressure epidemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently revealed a concerning health issue in India: over 180 million people, which is equivalent to 18 Crore individuals, are living with hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure. However, the real problem lies in the fact that only 37 percent of these individuals are aware of their condition. This means that a significant portion of the population doesn’t even know they have a potentially life-threatening health issue.

What’s even more worrisome is that out of those who are aware of their hypertension, only 30 percent have started the necessary treatment. This is a critical step in managing high blood pressure and preventing its severe consequences. Even more alarming is the fact that merely 15 percent of those diagnosed with hypertension manage to keep it under control.

WHO’s first-ever report on hypertension

To paint a global picture, hypertension affects one in every three individuals worldwide, making it a widespread health concern. Shockingly, four out of every five people with hypertension do not have it under control. This information is derived from the WHO’s first-ever report on hypertension, which was released on September 19.

The high prevalence of hypertension in India has dire consequences, particularly an increased incidence of heart strokes. A study from February 2022 revealed that India has a stroke rate of 108-172 per 100,000 people, with a one-month fatality rate ranging from 18 to 42 percent. In 2019, heart attacks became the leading cause of death and disability in India, according to the Global Burden of Disease report.

Hypertension is a condition that significantly affects a person’s quality of life. Uncontrolled hypertension over a prolonged period can lead to severe health issues, including heart attacks and strokes, and it can also harm the kidneys and eyes.


In response to this looming health crisis, the Indian government has initiated the India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI). This program aims to provide blood pressure care to over 70 million patients within the next two years. The sheer number of individuals affected by hypertension in India makes this program vital for the nation’s health.

The IHCI’s efforts have not gone unnoticed on the global stage. In 2022, it received recognition from the UN Interagency Task Force and the WHO Special Programme on Primary Health Care at the UN General Assembly. This prestigious award acknowledges India’s highly impactful and large-scale hypertension intervention, seamlessly integrated into the existing primary healthcare system.

To further emphasize the importance of addressing hypertension, the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke recommends that people above the age of 30 should have their blood pressure measured during every interaction with the public health system. This protocol is reported to be followed in most hospitals and public healthcare systems across India.

In summary, the WHO’s recent report on hypertension in India paints a concerning picture of a massive population living with this condition, with alarmingly low awareness, diagnosis, and treatment rates. This issue has serious health implications, including an increased risk of heart strokes and related fatalities. However, the Indian government’s proactive approach through the IHCI and its recognition on the global stage shows promising efforts to address this critical health challenge. Nevertheless, continued awareness, early diagnosis, and effective treatment remain essential in the fight against hypertension in India.

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