Objective: Population-based data on burden of hypertension are crucial for planning and implementation of prevention and control strategies but are often limited in developing countries in Africa. We assessed the prevalence of hypertension and related risk factors in a population cohort in rural Uganda initially established for HIV surveys.
Methods: In a cross-sectional population-based survey of hypertension and related risk factors in 2009, trained field staff administered a questionnaire and obtained a single measurement of blood pressure, BMI, waist and hip circumference, waist/hip ratio (WHR) and random plasma glucose. All members of the population cohort aged 13 years and above were eligible for survey participation. Logistic regression was used to evaluate factors associated with high blood pressure, defined as SBP (mmHg) ≥140 or DBP ≥90.
Results: Of the 4801 men and 5372 women who were eligible, 2719 (56.6%) men and 3959 (73.7%) women participated in the survey. The prevalence of high blood pressure was 22.0%, age standardized to the local population. Factors that were independently associated with high blood pressure were increasing age, BMI and elevated glucose in both sexes, extremes of education level (none and secondary or above) among men, and being unmarried and waist circumference ≥80 cm among women. Levels of reported hypertension were very low, with nine out 10 people unaware of their condition.
Conclusion: The use of established research infrastructure, for example, community HIV surveys, can help to generate the population-based data on the prevalence of hypertension and related risk factors needed to inform planning and implementation of effective prevention and control strategies in low-income countries. There is an urgent need to strengthen health services in responding effectively to the large burden of undetected hypertension.