While blood pressure may be decreasing around the world, it has been on the rise in India (Kounteya, 2012). According to the World Health Organization, the average blood pressure went down by 2.7mm Hg among women globally, while increasing by 2.4mm Hg in India. In men, it decreased by 2.3mm Hg globally in the past three decades but increased by 2.2mm Hg in India (Kounteya, 2012). Almost three-quarters of people with hypertension live in developing countries with limited health resources where there is very low awareness of hypertension and lack of blood pressure control, and India is one of these countries. High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease mortality, causing more than 7 million deaths every year worldwide. Age, ethnicity, family history, exercise and diet are some of the most common risk factors for hypertension. In addition, more area-specific factors must be examined in developing countries such as India.
Developing countries are notorious for their poor air quality, but India is reported to have the worst air pollution in the entire world, beating China, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh (Timmons, 2012). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (2012), three of the six most common air pollutants are particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. These fine particles can settle into the furthest reaches of the lungs and may even be able to enter the bloodstream directly. Particulate matter and other airborne pollutants are byproducts of fuel-burning machines from factories and car engines (Langrish, 2012). As one can see, the very things that are helpful in our everyday lives can also be harmful to our health and well being. This research includes the study of the abundance of vehicles in India and the pollution associated with them to determine if vehicles play a major role in air pollution. The primary goal of this research is to identify potential air pollutants that can be linked with the rising trend in hypertension in order to establish a basis for future research.
Hiren Kolli is a sophomore at the Honors College of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a major in Biology and a minor in Spanish. He is a member of the Honors College and was accepted into the Guaranteed Admissions Program in Medicine. His initial involvement in research was due to his interest in the high blood pressure of Indian families. He hopes his research will help him in pursuing a career in cardiology and obtaining his M.D., or becoming a physician-scientist. He has served as a volunteer at the Richmond Center for High Blood Pressure and Lobs and Lessons, the secretary of the Honors College Idea Exchange, and as the Director of Philanthropy of Giving to Extremes Medical Missions. He has found that the opportunities to get started and receive help with undergraduate research are endless.
Slider photo by Dimitry B.