Context: There is a growing prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in West Africa and among its migrants to industrialized countries. Despite this, no study has reviewed CVD risk factor prevalence among West Africans in Africa and industrialized countries.
Objective: To appraise studies on the prevalence of two CVD risk factors (hypertension and overweight/obesity) among two major West African populations (Ghanaians and Nigerians) in Africa and industrialized countries.
Methods: A comprehensive literature search from 1996 to July 2012 was undertaken to identify quantitative studies on hypertension and overweight/obesity among adult Ghanaians and Nigerians in West Africa and industrialized countries.
Results: Twenty studies were included with 10 conducted in Ghana, six conducted in Nigeria and four in industrialized countries. Studies in Ghana and Nigeria reported a hypertension prevalence of 19.3–54.6% with minimal differences between rural, urban, semi-urban, and mixed populations. Of the hypertensive patients, 14–73% were aware of their condition, 3–86% were on treatment, and 2–13% had controlled blood pressures. Overweight/obesity prevalence in Ghana and Nigeria ranged from 20 to 62% and 4 to 49%, respectively. The four studies in industrialized countries reported a hypertension prevalence of 8.4–55% and overweight/obesity prevalence of 65.7–90%.
Conclusion: Hypertension and overweight/obesity are highly prevalent conditions in West Africa and in its migrants residing in industrialized countries. Urgent measures are needed to prevent CVD risk factors and halt the clinical sequelae.