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Hypertension in South Asians

Hypertension in South Asians

  • About a third of adults in the United Kingdom (UK) have high blood pressure with south Asians having higher rates in some studies and similar rates in other studies.1-3
  • South Asians with hypertension have greater risk of  cardiovascular disease (CVD) complications compared to Europids.2 This is analogous to blacks having higher risks from hypertension than whites at any given level of blood pressure.
  • The prevalence of hypertension varies among south Asians in the UK. Pakistani women have higher rates and Bangladeshi men and women have lower rates.4
  • 33% of Indian men in UK have hypertension of which 16% (half) are not treated, 6% are treated but not controlled, and 11%  (one in three) are treated and controlled.4
  • A threefold difference in prevalence of hypertension exists among Pakistani people sharing the same genetic background, which, unlike the urban/rural difference, cannot be accounted for by measured risk factors.5 
  • The recommended blood pressure goal is <130/85 for Indians and <120/80 for those with diabetes, kidney disease or heart failure.6
  • Non-adherence to medication is common among people with hypertension for various reasons. This appears to be particularly true for all South Asians, most of whom as well as their physicians are unaware of the need for life-long use of medications in chronic diseases like hypertension. 


1. McKeigue PM, Shah B, Marmot MG. Relation of central obesity and insulin resistance with high diabetes prevalence and cardiovascular risk in South Asians. Lancet. 1991;337(8738):382-386.

2. Cappuccio FP, Cook DG, Atkinson RW, Strazzullo P. Prevalence, detection, and management of cardiovascular risk factors in different ethnic groups in south London. Heart. 1997;78(6):555-563.

3. Whitty CJ, Brunner EJ, Shipley MJ, Hemingway H, Marmot MG. Differences in biological risk factors for cardiovascular disease between three ethnic groups in the Whitehall II study. Atherosclerosis. 1999;142(2):279-286.

4. Barnett AH, Dixon AN, Bellary S, et al. Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk in the UK south Asian community. Diabetologia. Oct 2006;49(10):2234-2246.

5. Jafar TH, Levey AS, Jafary FH, et al. Ethnic subgroup differences in hypertension in Pakistan. J Hypertens. May 2003;21(5):905-912.

6. Enas  EA, Singh V, Gupta R, Patel R, et al. Recommendations of the Second Indo-US Health Summit for the prevention and control of cardiovascular disease among Asian Indians. Indian heart journal. 2009;61:265-74.

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