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Hypertension affects one in six Mumbaikars 

Mumbai: A silent killer stalks every sixth Mumbaikar. Known as hypertension, the almost-no-symptom disease is, in fact, among the most common condition that most 40-yearolds visit their doctor with, say city doctors. 
The Indian affinity for salt is a major trigger for the disease, says the Hypertension Society of India. 
Hypertension, basically a racing blood pressure condition, has the potential to affect people’s heart, the nervous system, kidneys and retina. “What is worse is that people are not likely to realise that they have hypertension for at least a decade until it manifests itself as a reason for an organ failure,’’ says heart specialist Dr Sudhir Vaishnav who is attached to Asian Heart Hospital, Bandra Kurla Complex. 
While he sees 15 new patients with hypertension every week, general physician Dr Suhas Pingle has discovered that at least a fifth of his patients have hypertension. “People never come to me saying that they have hypertension. It is only when I do a blood pressure check that I discover they have hypertension,’’ he says. 
According to Hypertension Society of India’s vice president Dr Shashank Joshi, “Our studies have revealed that every sixth Mumbaikar suffers from hypertension.’’ Moreover, Indians suffer from salt-sensitive blood pressure. “The Indian gene reveals an affinity for salt,’’ he adds. 
In fact, the Western India Diabetes Survey has also found that 66% of the diabetes patients who responded to the survey also had hypertension. “When diabetes and hypertension occur together, we call it the deadly duo,’’ says a doctor. 
Is stress a reason for the galloping rise in hypertension cases in the city? Stress apparently is only a trigger as only people with a genetic predisposition can develop the condition. Dr S Menon of S L Raheja Hospital, Mahim, says that as cardiovascular problems are more in men who are over 50 years and in post-menopausal women, urban metros with their inadequate resources for food, training and exercise incidence at earlier ages and progression to severe stage come more early than anticipated. So, while the American guidelines suggest that 90% of the people over 55 years of age are likely to suffer from high blood pressure at some stage of their life, the age could be lower in Indian metros like Mumbai. 
However, what doctors highlight is that hypertension is an easily preventable stage. “There is poor consciousness of what are good health practices,’’ says Dr Menon. “People don’t give priority to their cardio-vascular health, they lead sedentary lives with no concept of proper nutrition or fitness regimen.’’