More than half of all patients visiting primary healthcare centres were found to have respiratory symptoms across all age groups and regions of India, a latest study published in the international health journal Lancet said. The study also highlighted that 21.4% of all patients with hypertension, reported by the primary healthcare practitioners, were younger than 40 years. Findings of the study , aimed to record the prevalence of symptoms and medical conditions for which patients visit a primary healthcare practitioner in India, highlighted “important social and medical challenges in the developing world”.
The most common symptom among those visiting primary healthcare centre was fever (35.5%). Other common presentations were digestive system symptoms, circulatory symptoms, skin complaints and endocrine disorders. Fever, upper respiratory tract infections and obstructive airways diseases together accounted for almost 65% of the patients, signaling a continuous prevalence of infectious diseases among those seeking primary health care.
However, among non-communicable diseases, hypertension showed an increasing trend even at primary health centres. The study showed 14.52% people were suffering from hypertension.
“India has one of the highest disease burdens in the world. A better understanding of what ails India will help policy makers plan appropriate healthcare services and infrastructure development, design medical education curricula, and identify health research priorities that are relevant to the needs of the country,” the study said. According to Dr Anoop Misra, a leading endocrinologist and chairman, Fortis C-Doc, high intake of salt and smoking are the two major reasons common in rural and urban areas leading to high blood pressure and other heart-related diseases.
While mostly people in rural India visit primary health care centres, the data depict that the trend of infectious diseases continues to be high in these area. The study also found anaemia to be the fourth most common disease with 21.4% people diagnosed for the same. Also, anaemia was most common in women of menstrual age outside metros.
The study included responses from 7400 healthcare practitioners, which represented data for 204912 patients, who presented 554146 reasons for visit.