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Hypertension in South African adults: results of a nationwide survey

Hasumi, Takahiro; Jacobsen, Kathryn H.

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e328357c018

Objective: To evaluate the age-specific, sex-specific, and race-specific prevalence of hypertension among South African adults using a nationally representative dataset.

Methods: Data from the 59 227 adults (ages 18 and older) who participated in the 2010 South African General Household Survey (GHS) were analyzed using age-adjusted logistic regression models and direct age standardization.

Results: The weighted prevalence of self-reported diagnosis of hypertension by a health professional was 10.4%. The prevalence of hypertension increased significantly with age for both men and women. For black African, coloured, and Indian/Asian populations, the prevalence of hypertension in women was about twice the prevalence for men, with the gap narrowing for older adults. For white South Africans, the age-standardized rates were not significantly different by sex. The highest age-standardized diagnosed hypertension rates were for coloured women and black African women; the lowest age-standardized rates were for black African men and Indian/Asian men. In total, 94% of those reporting a diagnosis of hypertension reported taking antihypertensive medications.

Conclusion: There is a significant burden from hypertension in South Africa, especially as the under-diagnosis of hypertension may mean that the GHS underestimates the true rate of high blood pressure in the population.

Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Correspondence to Dr Kathryn H. Jacobsen, Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive MS 5B7, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA. Tel: +1 703 993 9168; fax: +1 703 993 1908; e-mail:

Abbreviations: CHW, community health worker; DHS, Demographic and Health Survey; GHS, General Household Survey; NCD, noncommunicable disease; PSU, primary sampling unit; SSA, Statistics South Africa

Received 16 June, 2012

Accepted 4 July, 2012

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.