Of these, only 48% people have their blood pressure controlled with treatment. About 30% of participants with high BP were not even aware that they have high blood pressure.
They were detected to have high BP on examination at the institute, principal investigator Dr Kameshwar Prasad told TOI.
“If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause a stroke. The risk of heart attack in hypertensive patients is also high,” he added.
Stroke is a leading cause of death and severe, long-term disability. It happens when blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, either due to blockage in blood supply to the brain (ischaemic stroke) or leakage of blood from a burst vessel in brain (haemorrhagic stroke).
High blood pressure can be the trigger in both types of strokes and doctors say they counsel and treat patients identified to be suffering from it.
But the All India Institute of Medical Sciences study goes much beyond prevention of stroke. It’s an ambitious project being carried out in collaboration with Erasmus University in the Netherlands where focus is on monitoring individuals, at least 15,000 people, over a period of eight years to identify the role of lifestyle, genetic changes and other factors behind stroke as well as dementia.
For this, sources said, AIIMS has a facility of 10 rooms where participants’ blood samples and other vitals are collected, stored and studied.
“The study took off in 2016. Till date, we have analysed the blood pressure of 4,518 participants above 50 years of age. Blood samples of 5,445 participants and saliva samples of 1,000 participants have been stored properly in Cohort biobank. Serum and plasma samples are stored at -80 degrees Celsius for future blood-based biomarker assays. DNA isolation of 16 samples is being done daily on a working day,” said a researcher.
The project is called the AIIMS Cohort Study (ACS) and it is being carried out on the lines of the Precision Medicine Initiative by former US President Barack Obama and the Framingham Study. The idea, officials said, is to move beyond “one-size-fits-all” approach and develop precision medicine that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environment and lifestyles. It is important because there is emerging evidence of environment, for example air pollution, playing an important role in rising incidences of diseases like stroke.
Dr Prasad said there has been a significant increase in stroke cases in the country which cannot be explained by unhealthy lifestyle and other identified risk factors alone.