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Women at higher risk of hypertension: Study

Women at higher risk of hypertension: Study
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Indian women who cook using biomass are in danger says experts. Women who have a long-term exposure to particulate matter (pollution) risk higher incidences of hypertension, regardless of the type of fuel used for cooking.

Hyderabad: Indian women who cook using biomass are in danger says experts. Women who have a long-term exposure to particulate matter (pollution) risk higher incidences of hypertension, regardless of the type of fuel used for cooking.

"Air pollution could contribute to high blood pressure, including inflammation and oxidative stress, which may in turn lead to changes in arterial function," says Dr Ram Prasad, consultant pulmonologist at KIMS.

Women, who are exposed to high-pollution levels in India, are at significantly higher risk of suffering from hypertension. "Rural women cooking food using biomass are exposed to smoke, and urban women who work are exposed to outside pollution. In addition to it, women use Agarbathi, Dhoopstick, firewood cooking, Room fresheners and perfumes, and everything is made of chemicals. Gradually, when women get exposed to these, they develop hypertension, along with respiratory illness," said Dr Ram Prasad.

Women are at more risk compared to men in Hyderabad, according to a research published in the journal Epidemiology. The survey studied some 5,531 adults from 28 peri-urban villages near Hyderabad city. For the study, the research team measured systolic and diastolic blood pressure of participants and estimated their annual residential exposure to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and black carbon.

"The study picked women who spend most of their time as households: about 83% of their daily time at house as compared to 57% for men. This could explain why we observe a stronger association in women than in men," according to Ariadna Curto of Barcelona Institute for Global Health (IS Global), Spain, who conducted the study.

Notably, all participants were exposed to fine particulate matter levels above the 10 g/m³ limit, which is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Average exposure to PM 2.5 in this study was 33g/m³.

"These women never smoked, but are affected by hypertension more than men because of peri-urban culture, where the sources and chemical makeup of air pollution are the major cause. About 30.4% women are affected with hypertension," said Dr Vijay Kumar, another pulmonologist.

Women who are indirectly exposed to smoking and pollution had hypertension. It could have been prevented by using scarf while going out, reducing use of perfumes and room fresheners. Moreover, women must also be cautious while using bio mass for cooking.

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