Hypertension is reported to be the fourth contributor to premature death in developed countries and the seventh in developing countries (1). Recent reports indicate that nearly 1 billion adults (more than a quarter of the world’s population) had hypertension in 2000, and this is predicted to increase to 1.56 billion by 2025 (2). Earlier reports also suggest that the prevalence of hypertension is rapidly increasing in developing countries (3,4) and is one of the leading causes of death and disability in developing countries. The epidemiology of hypertension, in terms of its importance as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, continues to be a major area of research. In 1913, it was reported that patients with elevated blood pressure (BP) tend to die prematurely, while in 1931 high BP was a common problem in clinical practice in Britain (5,6). A meta-analysis of hypertension prevalence rates in India (7) demonstrated a significant increase in the prevalence of hypertension. The increase was significantly higher in urban than in rural populations and the prevalence of hypertension was higher in urban compared to rural areas. The prevalence rates in India are now almost comparable to those in the USA (8,9). The prevalence of hypertension varies considerably from one region of India to another. Yet no nationwide epidemiological studies to determine the prevalence of hypertension have been carried out. Sporadic studies from different parts of the country provide data on the epidemiology of hypertension in India. Chopra & Chopra (10) reported the first epidemiological study on hypertension in urban north India in 1942, following which, many studies in urban and rural areas of India have been carried out. Subsequent studies have shown a steadily increasing trend of hypertension in India (11).