‘Bhopal gas victims prone to hypertension’

By TCN News,

Bhopal: Survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal are more prone to develop high blood pressure than unexposed people of the same socio-economic background, suggest a recent study.

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At a press conference organized on the occasion of the World Health Day, members of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic today presented findings of their recent study.The study was carried out by the community health workers of the Clinic among 195 persons above 30 years age from Rajgarh Colony near the Union Carbide factory and a similar number from 100 Quarters near BHEL Jamboree Grounds. The study showed that 28 % of survivors of the disaster were hypertensive whereas in the unexposed population the figure was 23 %.

Curiously the study showed that 31 % women were hypertensive in comparison to 23 % hypertensive men in the gas exposed population. According to World Health Organisation’s ‘global health statistics 2012’ In India, 23.10 per cent men and 22.60 per cent women over 25 years old suffer from hypertension. In the unexposed population more men are hypertensive than women.

The study pointed to an alarming fact that 82 % people in both exposed and unexposed communities were not aware that they were hypertensive. This is particularly worrisome because untreated hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. Another health risk identified by the study was the prevalence of obesity particularly among women gas victims. 44 % of the women in the gas exposed population were overweight or obese and 68 % of such women were hypertensive.

Dr. Mohammad Ali Qaisar, one of the physicians working at the Sambhavna Clinic said that many scientific studies have shown that exposure to pesticide and other toxic chemicals causes hardening and narrowing of blood vessels, called atherosclerosis that results in high blood pressure in the exposed individuals.

He also pointed out that a large proportion of the Bhopal disaster survivors registered at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic have been diagnosed with hypertension, in fact it is the second most common diagnosis. Among the 7681 gas affected persons over 30 years age registered at the Clinic 3508 (46 %) have been diagnosed with hypertension. More gas affected women (54%) than men (33%) were found to be hypertensive. It is interesting to see that women in the age group 41 to 50 years were most diagnosed with hypertension compared to men who were most hypertensive in the age group 51 to 60.

Dr. Qaisar called upon the Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation to pay special attention to surveillance, treatment, follow up and health education focused on hypertension in the gas affected population.