Prehypertension affected 33.7% of the population in India, with varying prevalence across districts, notes a study published in the International Journal of Public Health that analysed data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), on 743,067 adults aged 18–54 years. The sample consisted of 87.6% females and 12.4% males. 

The study was aimed at determining the prevalence and determinants of ever-measured blood pressure, prehypertension, and raised blood pressure at the national, State and district levels in India. Determinants included age, gender, education, wealth, lifestyle, obesity, and blood glucose levels.

Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Noncommunicable diseases (NCD) are the leading cause of mortality worldwide and it is estimated that 64.9% of all deaths in India are attributed to non-communicable diseases. Among them, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) alone contributed to 27.4% of total mortality. Hypertension is a major preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). 

For the study, the population was distributed across various regions of India, with the central region having the largest representation of 23.5% (174,729 individuals) of the population; the eastern region comprising 22.8% (169,650 individuals); southern region constituting 21.5% (159,876 individuals); while the northern, western, and northeastern regions made up 12.6% (93,917 individuals), 15.6% (115,649 individuals), and 3.9% (29,246 individuals) of the population, respectively.

The study indicated that prehypertension prevalence varied widely across India’s districts, with an overall rate of 33.7%, and ranging from 15.6% to 63.4%.

The southern region had a lower average prevalence at 30.2%, including Puducherry (27.7%), Telangana (28.2%), Tamil Nadu (29.7%), and Andhra Pradesh (29.8%) having relatively lower rates.

In the northern region, Himachal Pradesh (35.3%) and Chandigarh (28.6%) showed lower rates compared with Jammu and Kashmir (45.2%), Ladakh (48.8%), and Rajasthan (43.5%) in the north, and Chhattisgarh (38.8%) in the central region.

Meanwhile, the southern region performed relatively better with a lower average raised blood pressure prevalence rate of 16.8%, showcasing the lower rates in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep Islands (12.1%), and the States of Kerala (15.5%) and Tamil Nadu (17.9%). The northern region also demonstrated lower average prevalence, with an average rate of 16.6%.

This region included States like Himachal Pradesh (16.7%), Chandigarh (19.4%), and Delhi (18.6%), which displayed higher rates. Conversely, some regions and States exhibited higher prevalence rates of raised blood pressure.

The northeastern region, with an average prevalence rate of 16.3%, included Sikkim (29.1%) and Arunachal Pradesh (24.6%) with higher prevalence rates. States in the central region showed varying rates, with Madhya Pradesh having a relatively lower prevalence rate (14.3%). 

The recently published study states that the Indian findings demonstrate subnational variations in blood pressure and can guide evidence-based interventions at the State and district levels to reduce the burden of raised blood pressure and enhance overall population health.

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