This year’s Padma Shri recipient Dr. C. Venkat S. Ram gets candid and gives his expert views on the silent killer

Blood pressure is a silent killer which needs to be detected early and the condition treated aggressively, says renowned blood pressure specialist and this year’s Padma Shri recipient Dr. C. Venkat S. Ram.

Author of over 300 research papers in peer reviewed journals and alumni of Osmania Medical College, he says that Indians have a lazy and cavalier attitude towards hypertension.

Having worked in the field of understanding mechanisms of action of various anti-hypertension drugs for over 30 years in the US, Dr. Ram feels that there is a lot of misconception related to blood pressure among general public.

The hypertension management expert came back to Hyderabad from the US recently and joined as president and CEO of Mediciti Hospitals and Mediciti Medical College.

The Padma Shri awardee sits down with The Hindu and fields some questions on the silent killer.

What are the trends of blood pressure in India with respect to the world?

Dr. Ram: Worldwide, cases of blood pressure are reducing while in India the cases are on the rise. Same is the case with heart ailments. The major contributor for such a scenario is undiagnosed, uncontrolled and untreated blood pressure. The problem is that blood pressure does not have symptoms and is a silent killer. A heart attack in the middle of the night can be due to hypertension. Therefore, there is a need to diagnose blood pressure early and take treatment aggressively.

What are your observations on scenario of hypertension in India?

Dr. Ram: According to my observation, hypertension is rampant in India. Every other person in our country suffers from high blood pressure. Significantly, young population in India, compared to West, are getting diagnosed from hypertension. In West, it usually is diagnosed between 40 and 45 years but here it is being diagnosed between 30 and 35 years. Therefore, Indians carry blood pressure for a longer time in their life span.

What are the common misconceptions with BP?

Dr. Ram: I have seen people casually say things like I have mild BP, as if they are indicating that it is not going to be a big problem. Such attitudes would land them in big trouble. Public should make sure that whenever they go to a doctor or a laboratory for tests, they should undergo BP check up. It is the easiest and cheapest form of diagnosis and is also easily controllable if proper drugs are taken at the right time.

What should be done about hypertension at the policy and individual level?

Dr. Ram: I am thoroughly convinced that the government by itself can’t do everything. The only way out is private-public partnership. Targeting educational institutions, large gatherings like Kumbh Mela and our own Numaish is the way out. Individuals should not be casual about hypertension. In cities, individuals lead a sedentary lifestyle but have access to but high calorific value food. They have to take up walking at least for 25 minutes on a daily basis and reduce salt consumption by 50 per cent.

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