On the occasion of World Health Day, Apollo Hospitals, Asia’s largest and most trusted healthcare group, unveiled the Health of the Nation 2022 report highlighting the prevalence and distribution of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the country. Based on 16 million anonymized responses to the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Scanner by Apollo 24/7, the report gives critical insights on trends in NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, COPD & asthma, obesity in different regions of the country. The report also underscores the potential of AI and data analytics in prediction of risk and early identification as well as management of NCDs.
Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “The last year saw the country steadily building a bulwark against COVID with a robust vaccination program that led to a steady fall in the number of COVID cases. As we emerge from the shadow of COVID, it is imperative to bring the focus back on the pandemic of NCDs, a focus that faced a disruption impacting diagnosis and treatment for millions of patients. Approach health as an investment and not as an expenditure. It is the only way we will succeed against the multiple challenges we face today with the pandemic, a polluted planet, and an increasing incidence of diseases that form the theme for World Health Day 2022 – Our Planet, Our Health.
“For a developing country like India, NCDs are a critical matter that need to be addressed. In India, NCDs kill 6 million people every year of which around 23% are between 30-70 years of age. An analysis of the data from 3.8 Lakh responses to the COVID Scanner shows the criticality of addressing the NCD challenge using all the tools at our disposal. The data indicates a national prevalence for diabetes mellitus of around 7%, over 8% for hypertension, and around 2% for COPD & asthma. Considering our population of 1.2 bn., these are huge numbers that will increase the burden of disease and impact productivity and economic growth. We must address the NCD challenge through promotion of healthy lifestyles, early diagnosis and management.”
Key findings of the Health of the Nation 2022 report for Diabetes Mellitus show an increased prevalence in the southern and eastern parts of the country with an average national prevalence of 6.96%. Urban areas showed a higher prevalence at 7.01% as compared to rural areas with 6.70%. The study also showed obesity in women over 35 years of age leading to poor diabetes control and increased risk of heart disease and other complications. Data also indicated poor diabetes control in women with high cholesterol with a 0.5 increase in HbA1c diabetes marker levels.
In Hypertension, the study showed a national prevalence of high blood pressure at over 8.18% with a higher incidence in North and East India. Data also indicated that adult males between the ages of 36 to 50 years have a 36% higher chance of developing hypertension than adult females in the same age range. Urban areas at 8.6% showed a higher incidence as compared to rural areas with 7.58%.
Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD) and asthma showed an incidence similar to global numbers at 2%. Here, females between 36 to 50 years of age showed a 1.3 times higher chance of developing COPD as compared to males.
NCDs pose devastating health consequences for individuals, families and communities with socioeconomic costs that can derail India’s achieving the target of reducing premature mortality from NCDs by one-third by 2030 in line with the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is imperative, that only by adopting Artificial Intelligence and Big data analytics to predict risk and personalize care, we can help give an advantage to healthcare providers!
Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “The theme of World Health Day this year is ‘Our Planet, Our Health’, which is a powerful reminder to put the health of individuals and the planet at the center of our actions to create societies focused on well-being. Our annual Health of the Nation study collating a vast amount of real-world data on the prevalence, incidence, and risks of disease has led to insights that will help us allocate resources in an optimal manner and develop the right strategy to tackle the NCD pandemic.”
The Health of the Nation study also looked at corporate employee data of about thirty-five thousand, where the average prevalence of at least 1 NCD in employees is about 56%. The NCD risk factors of high cholesterol is prevalent in 48% of employees and obesity in 18% of employees. There is variability across sectors, indicating that more sedentary corporate settings should consider ways to help their employees proactively reduce these risks.
Dr Sangita Reddy added, “NCDs are fuelled by many factors that include urban lifestyles with stress and unhealthy diets and an aging population. Study results, derived from 35,000 health checks done with corporates in 2021, has also shown a high prevalence of NCDs among corporate employees. These insights will help us use technology to gain an upper hand in ensuring a healthy workforce. Combined with our pioneering experience of 38 years, we have at our disposal new technologies based on AI and ML for predicting risk scores and developing structured lifestyle programs with new models of care that lead to improved clinical outcomes.”
The AICVD risk score predicted a moderate or high risk of a cardiac event within 10 years in half of the 31-50-year-olds. Other screening programs, especially for cancer, help with early detection and treatment for improved survival rates.
Dr Sathya Sriram, CEO of Preventive Health, highlights the silver lining, “On the positive side, the report also showed that structured programs help individuals who are at risk to implement and sustain lifestyle changes that reduce risk and slow the progression of the condition.” Enrollment in Apollo Clinics’ Sugar Program showed a mean HbA1c reduction by 1.2% between the first and fourth visits. Data from Apollo ProHealth, a proactive personalized health management program backed by advanced diagnostics, artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms, showed a mean HbA1c reduction for diabetics by 0.73% over 6-12 months, as well as an average weight loss of 3.9kg for 60% of those who engaged actively with the program.