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Objective: Prevalence of hypertension was examined in a widely dispersed (45 110 km2) representative group of Ladakhi in Northern India. The influence of hypoxic environment of wide-ranged altitude (2600–4900 m) and lifestyle change on hypertension was studied. Methods: 2800 participants (age 20–94 years) were enrolled. Systolic blood pressure ≥140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure of ≥90 mm Hg and/or taking current anti-hypertensive medicine was defined as hypertension. Height and weight for body mass index and SpO2 were examined. The rural population comprised six subdivisions with a distinct altitude, dietary and occupational pattern. Participants in the urban area of Leh consist of two groups, that is, migrants settled in Leh from the Changthang nomadic area, and dwellers born in Leh. The prevalence of hypertension in the two groups was compared with that in the farmers and nomads in rural areas. The effects of ageing, hypoxia, dwelling at high altitude, obesity, modernised occupation, dwelling in an urban area, and rural-to-urban migration to hypertension were analysed by multiple logistic regression. Results: The prevalence of hypertension was 37.0% in all participants and highest in migrants settled in Leh (48.3%), followed by dwellers born in Leh town (41.1%) compared with those in rural areas (33.5). The prevalence of hypertension in nomads (all: 27.7%, Tibetan/Ladakhi: 19.7/31.9%)) living at higher altitude (4000–4900 m) was relatively low. The associated factors with hypertension were ageing, overweight, dwelling at higher altitude, engagement in modernised sedentary occupations, dwelling in urban areas, and rural-to-urban migration. The effects of lifestyle change and dwelling at high altitude were independently associated with hypertension by multivariate analysis adjusted with confounding factors. Conclusions: Socioeconomic and cultural factors play a big role with the effect of high altitude itself on high prevalence of hypertension in highlanders in Ladakh.


  • BMJ Open

    BMJ Open 5(4), 2015-04-20

    BMJ Publishing Group


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