A study of the slum population in Chennai Corporation limits has revealed that 34 per cent have high blood pressure levels. A total of 1,003 persons in the 17 to 89 age group were screened of which 345 were found to have high BP levels. The study was conducted in a locality in Walltax Road.

Doctors from the Institute of Community Medicine of Madras Medical College, who conducted the screening, termed the findings preliminary but said sedentary lifestyle and the kind of food consumed had a major role to play. Assistant professor

A. Chithra, who led the study, said, “Their diet is rich in salt and saturated fatty acids. They eat dried fish and reuse oil regularly; salted packaged snacks are common in these households and carbonated beverages consumed. They don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits,” she added.

She said this figure could be extrapolated to the urban slum population elsewhere in the city as there would be little variation in lifestyle in most cases.

The results of the study show more people with high BP than even the World Health Organisation’s estimate. The WHO’s calculation is that 32 per cent of India’s population over 25 years could have high BP. The theme for this World Health Day, which will be observed on Sunday, is ‘Control your BP’.

V.V. Anantharaman, director in-charge of the Institute, said in 90 per cent of the cases, high BP could be due to factors such as stress, food and genetic predisposition. Ten per cent of those diagnosed could have BP due to kidney disease or endocrine problems.

The data has spurred the community medicine department of Madras Medical College to take up screening of school children in classes 1 to 5 in the next academic year.

This decision follows a dissertation by two medical students at the Institute of Child Health which sought screening of children for BP.

The WHO says that around 2.4 per cent of the paediatric population has BP.

On Friday, health minister K.C. Veeramani released an information leaflet on BP which was received by Mayor Saidai Duraisamy.

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