India’s looming healthcare tab from lifestyle diseases

A survey by drug maker sanofi-aventis on diabetes and hypertension prevalance in outpatient settings in ten different states in India revealed some preliminary results based on findings from two states – Delhi and Maharashtra.

The study “highlights a high percentage of diabetes and hypertension patients who are suffering from associated co-morbidities such as kidney disease, dyslipidemia (uncontrolled cholesterol level), and also shows that there are a significant number of cases where patients are suffering from one or both the conditions, in spite of no family history or genetic predisposition towards either disease,” says a sanofi statement. ” The results also alarmingly show that almost a quarter of the hypertensives were still undiagnosed and unaware that they were living with a serious medical condition.”

I have no doubt in my mind that the findings from other states will not deviate hugely from the trend. This begs two questions : won’t this level of disease weigh down India’s ability to emerge rapidly as a ‘super power’ (which many of our key opinion leaders in politics, media, business and social life assume is a matter of course). And two, shouldn’t the country start addressing ways to curb the huge healthcare tab of treating all these sick Indians? We need a massive programme that combines prevention, early diagnosis and intervention and is executed with missionary zeal. Such a programme could potentially also dovetail into how best to use Indian systems of medicine to treat diseases that Indians seem to be more prone to than many other nationalities, for instance.

In the meantime, see findings below :

Parameters Maharashtra  New Delhi region
Prevalence of diabetes 40% 33%
Prevalence of hypertension 56% 48%
Prevalence of both diabetes and hypertension 29% 21%
Unaware they had diabetes 5% 3%
Diabetics with no family history 41% 32%
Patients with uncontrolled diabetes 73% 62%
Diabetics with kidney complications 31% 27%
Unaware they had hypertension 26% 24%
Hypertensives with no family history 46% 42%
Patients with uncontrolled hypertension 79% 77%
Hypertensives with kidney complications 32% 23%

2 thoughts on “India’s looming healthcare tab from lifestyle diseases

  1. Yes the twin epedemic is a huge burden . We are in the process of analyzing other states , the data of which we will share shortly.


  2. It is indeed a grave situation. The SITE study is broadly driving home the same point – It is time to raise the alarm. India – wake up, run, eat well and do a small bit to care for your own health.
    We have already known about the 40 million patients stats and the WHO caution of the impending Diabetes Tsunami in India, didn’t we? The SITE study perhaps drills down one more layer to bring out that part of the disease-prone population that is on the periphery. While we all know how much the government will really care for all this within its confined resources, what I heard about one private sector initiative does not redeem any major points. A doctor in a private hospital recently told me that a large corporate has been sending its workers for health check up and diabetes tests. Like the SITE study it was found by the hospital that many had diabetes, even at an acute stage but the workers were happily unaware. When the hospital asked the particular corporate to help the workers with close follow-ups, they did not show much interest. It seems their job was to send the workers for health check up and not more than that. Finally, the exasperated doctor gave up. Those active diabetics didn’t even know what cholesterol was.
    As the SITE study points out and goes one step ahead of the many repeat studies that we see, we are sitting on a live dynamite. More studies will send the same signals, as you rightly said.
    Btw, I think it will be good to know if there is a count of the prevalence of diabetes among rural population – may be Tier III towns lower down.


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