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Using the 2010 pilot study of the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI), the authors examine the socioeconomic and behavioral risk factors for poor cardiovascular health among middle-aged and older Indians, focusing on self-reported and directly measured hypertension. The LASI pilot survey (N=1,683) was fielded in four states: Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, and Rajasthan. These four states were chosen to capture regional variations and socioeconomic and cultural differences. They find significant inter-state differences across multiple measures of cardiac health and risk factors for hypertension, including body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and health behaviors. In contrast to the findings from developed countries, they find education and other markers of higher socioeconomic status (SES) to be positively associated with hypertension. Among the hypertensive, however, they find that those at higher SES are less likely to be undiagnosed and more likely to be in better control of their blood pressure than respondents with low SES. They also find significant inter-state variations in hypertension prevalence, diagnosis, and management that remain even after accounting for socio economic differences, obesity, and health behaviors. They conclude by discussing these findings and their implications for public health and economic development in India and the developing country context more generally.

This paper series made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center.

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