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Wealthy but not healthy: India's rich more likely to suffer hypertension, says National Family Health Survey

By Shreehari Paliath

Nearly 13 percent women and 18 percent men aged 15-49 in the highest stratum of the wealth index have hypertension (high blood pressure), according to data from the National Family Health Survey, 2015-16 (NFHS-4).  This is the first time the NFHS has included the measurement of blood pressure.

 Wealthy but not healthy: Indias rich more likely to suffer hypertension, says National Family Health Survey

Representative image. AP

The wealth index was calculated on the basis of ownership of various consumer goods, such as televisions, bicycles or cars, and housing amenities, such as sources of drinking water, toilet facilities, and flooring material. Households were categorised into five equal groups called quintiles.

Hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure, according to a global brief on hypertension by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Hypertension is responsible for at least 45 percent of deaths due to heart disease and 51 percent of deaths due to stroke (caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain) globally, according to WHO.

The prevalence of hypertension increased four percentage points from the lowest (9 percent) to the highest (13 percent) in the wealth index among women and seven percentage points between lowest (11 percent) to highest (18 percent) in men.

In 1990, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounted for 37.9% of all deaths — causing about four in 10 deaths in India — IndiaSpend reported on 14 November, 2017.

By 2016, the share of NCDs had risen to 61.8 percent — causing six in 10 deaths in India — an increase of 23.9 percentage points from 1990.

Higher the education, lower the prevalence for women

Women with 12 years or more of schooling have an 8 percent prevalence (lowest) of hypertension, while women who have less than five years of schooling have almost double the rate of prevalence at 14 percent (highest).

Men with more than 12 years of schooling and less than five years of schooling have similar rates of prevalence at 16 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Source: National Family Health Survey, 2015-16 (Page 391 & 393); Figures rounded off.

Sikhs, people in Sikkim have high prevalence of hypertension

Nearly 24 percent Sikh men and 16 percent Sikh and Jain women have hypertension, the highest prevalence compared with other religious groups in India.


As many as 31 percent men in Sikkim and 18 percent women in Sikkim and Assam have hypertension.

Source: National Family Health Survey, 2015-16 (Page 395-396); Figures rounded off.

The overall prevalence of hypertension among women and men is 15 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Urban areas record higher prevalence than rural areas for both men and women at 17 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2018 16:49:06 IST