Stress, poor food habits trigger increase in hypertension cases in Madurai

Speaking to TNIE, former dean of Government Rajaji Hospital, Dr Rathinavel, pointed out that lack of proper diet and physical exercise were the primary reasons for hypertension.
The initial screening by Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam volunteers, during the early phase (January 2023) of the scheme, detected 1,23,024 persons (5%) suffering from hypertension.
The initial screening by Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam volunteers, during the early phase (January 2023) of the scheme, detected 1,23,024 persons (5%) suffering from hypertension.(Representative image)

MADURAI: Stress, poor food habits and lack of exercise, among others have led to a rise in hypertension cases among the residents and villagers of Madurai district. According to official data from the state health department, 2.51 lakh individuals (11%), out of the total district population (32.46 lakh), suffer from hypertension here, and a majority of them are in their forties.

"In Madurai, out of the total population, 24.6 lakh individuals are aged above 18 years. The initial screening by Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam (MTM) volunteers, during the early phase (January 2023) of the scheme, detected 1,23,024 persons (5%) suffering from hypertension. Later, an intensified campaign was carried out, and 2.51 lakh persons were found to have fallen prey to the disease (June 2024)," stated the data.

Speaking to TNIE, former dean of Government Rajaji Hospital, Dr Rathinavel, pointed out that lack of proper diet and physical exercise were the primary reasons for hypertension. "In Madurai, except for daily wage labourers, none of the population engage in any form of physical exercise or activity. Even youngsters take a bike to travel down the streets. Whatever high calorie food items we eat must be burned out through physical exercise. Otherwise, it could lead to non-communicable diseases," he said.

He further said the increasing number of white collar jobs in Madurai also called for an emphasis on physical activities. Moreover, one must maintain a proper sleeping pattern, as derailed sleep could also cause hypertension-related complications, he added.

When contacted, Red Cross Society (Madurai) coordinator A Rajkumar said, "Mindset, food habits, and alcohol are the primary factors affecting hypertension. The mindset of Madurai people, who are known for their extremities in expressing emotions including love and anger, are another reason. Unscheduled food habits with excess fat and cholesterol intake, coupled with lack of proper exercise could also be a reason for the soaring hypertension cases."

According to District Health Officer Dr P Kumaraguruparan, as many as 123,024 persons (5%) suffered from hypertension in the district, as per the initial MTM screening conducted 1.5 years back. Accordingly, we offered them medication and other assistance. However, many of the patients were reluctant and even avoided our volunteers. he said.

"Besides, it was difficult to detect hypertension among the residents, as the volunteers had to counsel every patient and refer them to a rural Primary Health Centre (RPHC), even as many of them refused to visit the facility. The process was time-consuming and as per our findings, as many as 2.51 lakh people suffer from hypertension in Madurai, and most of them fall above 40 years," he said, and added that the patients were being advised to undertake proper medical treatment, including physical exercise.

It may be noted that high blood pressure could result in a number of health complications, including increased risk of heart attacks, stroke and other serious illnesses.

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