Bangalore: In India, at least 1 in 10 adults or 10.95% are affected by hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid disorder1 This prevalence rate is significantly higher than that in developed countries, which ranges between 2% and 5%. In Bangalore alone, 9.23% of adults suffer from hypothyroidism.1 In fact, the disease is often hereditary, and the overall risk of developing hypothyroidism is high if one has a family history of thyroid disease.1,2 Despite the high prevalence and associated burden, thyroid disorders, along with other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), remain neglected3. In the prevailing circumstances, there is a discernible gap in addressing such chronic health conditions. To bridge this gap, Abbott, through various initiatives, is committed to raise awareness to enable greater understanding of thyroid disorders and to highlight the need for regular screening.
The thyroid gland plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and development of the body while also regulating multiple functions including energy levels, weight, heart rate and mood. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. As per a study conducted across eight cities in India, nearly one-third of people living with hypothyroidism experience the disorder without diagnosis.1 Thus, a large proportion of the population experiencing thyroid disorders may not be seeking treatment. This low awareness is compounded by non-specific symptoms like fatigue, excessive weight gain, constipation, dry skin, cold intolerance, muscle cramps, and puffy eyelids.
There is low penetration of screening for the condition across the Indian population. However, if left untreated, thyroid disorders can result in elevated cholesterol levels, irregular menstrual cycles, depression, and may even lead to serious cardiovascular and neurological complications. Overall, thyroid disorders impair the daily quality of life, work performance and economic productivity of an individual.
Women are three times more susceptible to hypothyroidism as compared to men1 and are at a higher risk of infertility and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Hypothyroidism also has concerning implications for pregnant women, including the risk of placental abnormalities, anaemia, preeclampsia, miscarriage, and postpartum bleeding.2 Physicians across the globe recommend screening for thyroid disorder during pregnancy. 
Highlighting the need for timely diagnosis of thyroid related conditions, Dr. Prasanna Kumar, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist, Centre For Diabetes & Endocrine Disorders, Bangalore said, “In Bangalore alone we have seen 3.81% cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed. Adults who are aged 35 years and above, pregnant, and middle-aged women in particular, are at high risk and may suffer additional complications if a thyroid disorder is left untreated. Undetected hypothyroidism results in increased vulnerability to comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. The pathophysiological association between Type2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and thyroid dysfunction is believed to be the result of interplay between various biochemical, genetic, and hormonal malfunctions. Poorly managed T2DM can lead to insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and increased risk of hypoglycaemic episodes in diabetics.11 As a result, it increases the cardiovascular risk in T2DM. This can only be reduced with frequent screening to ensure timely diagnosis, which in turn will drive treatment and disease management for hypothyroidism at an early stage.”
There is a growing need to counter the hypothyroidism burden and its associated complications to limit both current and future pressures on India’s healthcare system.
Dr. Srirupa Das, Medical Director, Abbott commented, “Abbott is committed to raising awareness on thyroid disorders in India. By educating people at higher risk, including women, about the nature, prevalence and symptoms of the condition, we aim to create awareness, which would facilitate timely diagnosis and treatment. We are committed to continue ‘Making India Thyroid Aware’ so that every individual can be empowered to pursue better health.”
Through its ‘Making India Thyroid Aware’ (MITA) campaign, Abbott continues to undertake various initiatives to increase awareness about thyroid disorders that aid early detection and diagnosis. Such initiatives include Abbott’s partnership with the Indian Thyroid Society to carry out an awareness drive across various states within the country and women’s health workshops. Till date, the campaign has been successful in educating close to 6 million people through various consumer/healthcare professional initiatives.