Leading public health experts and female doctors called for immediate policy interventions to prevent a hypertension epidemic in India on the occasion of World Heart Day, which was observed on September 29.Experts highlighted in a webinar hosted by the Family Planning Association of India thatDue to a variety of socio-cultural and environmental factors, hypertension disproportionately affects women in India.Economic factors impede their access to diagnostic services and timely treatment.
Among those who spoke at the event were Sanghamitra Ghosh (Secretary-General, IPHA, Kolkata)
Dr. Daksha Shah, Rathnamala Desai (President, FPA India) (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 to address it, why women did not seek treatment, what measures could be implemented to enable them to do so, and how to ensure treatment adherence.
According to the WHO, 63% of Indians suffer from noncommunicable diseases, with cardiovascular disease accounting for 27% of the total. In India, hypertension remains the leading cause of cardiac disease, despite a lack of awareness, inadequate primary care, and inadequate follow-up.
One in every five women in India (aged 15 to 49 years) has hypertension but is undiagnosed.Hypertension causes the blood vessel walls to thicken.
Dr. Sanghamitra Ghosh, Secretary-General of the IPHA in Kolkata, stated that the complications that have arisen. Impaired foetal growth, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, and other hypertensive disorders cause morbidity and mortality in the mother, foetus, and newborn.
In younger and middle-aged women, hypertension may cause symptoms that are misdiagnosed as stress or menopause-related, resulting in neglect and becoming a risk factor for underlying diseases. Women may be more prone to developing hypertension after menopause due to a decrease in the levels of the cardio-protective hormone oestrogen.
“A preliminary review of data around the prevalence and care cascade of hypertension in India has revealed that women are at an increased risk of hypertension, especially beyond their reproductive years, as compared to men, and they are also sub-optimally treated,” said Dr Kalpana Apte, Secretary General, FPA India. Women are more likely than men to be affected by health disparities caused by sociocultural factors, as well as socioeconomic and political contexts.
Gender discrimination, socioeconomic burden, and physical mobility constraints frequently limit women’s access to optimal health care, she continued. This webinar provided an opportunity to interact with experts about data and programme gaps that can impede the effective implementation of gender-equitable hypertension control programmes in India.
Dr Rathnamala Desai, President of FPA India, elaborated on the subject, saying, “The key agenda of our advocacy efforts is to identify research gaps and design policy and programmes so that specific needs of women, during and beyond their reproductive years, are addressed.”
CVDs are more common in women (38%) than in men (31%), so it is critical to implement programmes that can control hypertension in women specifically, as the condition has a far-reaching impact on their health, well-being, and role in society.” “Hypertension affects nearly 24% of the world’s population and is a major risk factor for a variety of cardiovascular diseases and complications. Women are more likely than men to have hypertension, which often goes undiagnosed and untreated, putting them at a higher risk of complications.
There are many sex and gender-based disparities, as well as rural versus urban divides and inequalities, in the diagnosis and management of hypertension, particularly in women “Dr. Aijt Menon, a renowned interventional cardiologist from Mumbai, agreed. Dr. Daksha Shah, Deputy Executive Health Officer at MCGM, stated, “Given the country’s and city’s alarming NCDmortality statistics, we must prioritise budget and human resource allocation for NCDs, with a particular focus on women’s participation in the programme. Also, develop care models that involve the private sector and community organisations.
Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 60% of all deaths, according to the WHO. Every year, a staggering 35 million people are killed by these silent killers, with 18 million of them being women. NCDs are the most serious threat to women’s health worldwide, wreaking havoc on women in developing countries during their most productive years. As a result, it is critical to prioritise hypertension treatment.
Controlling hypertension necessitates a strategic approach that begins with policy-level support for effective programme implementation, standardisation of treatment protocols, deployment of trained human resources and monitoring mechanisms across all tiers of the health system, inter-sectoral linkages and synergies between ongoing programmes, and improved people’s ability to prevent and self-manage chronic disease.
In this context, Prioritizing Advocacy for Control of Hypertension in India (PrACHI) is a collaboration between development partners FPA India and GHAI to reach out to key influencers for effective policy and programme implementation to reduce the prevalence of hypertension in India by 25% by 2025.
Advocacy efforts will focus on the effective implementation and convergence of national programmes and schemes that are either fully committed to hypertension prevention and management or include this strategic component as part of a larger programme. The critical asks will be for on-the-ground synergies between vertical programmes, larger allocations of resources (or resource pooling), and public-private partnerships for effective implementation and monitoring.