Current epidemiology of hypertension in Port Harcourt metropolis, Rivers State, Nigeria

  • MR Akpa
  • PC Emem-Chioma
  • OJ Odia


Background: Hypertension is the sustained elevation of the blood pressure to 140/90 mmHg or more. It is the commonest non-communicable disease in the world and all races are affected with variable prevalence. In Nigeria, prevalence was between 10 and 14% based on a national survey conducted over a decade ago. Since that survey, the definition of hypertension has changed and social and demographic changes have also taken place, and so changes in prevalence and epidemiology are expected, hence the need for the present survey. Methods: A cluster sample of adult Nigerians, aged 18 years and above, living in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, drawn from civil servants at the Federal secretariat, state secretariat, six selected secondary schools, two major markets, two major motor parks and one of the higher institutions as well as staff of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital formed the cohort for this study. Their blood pressures were measured in the various locations on the day of visit using standard protocol. The height and weight of all participants were measured, social and demographic information was obtained as well as history of previous hypertension, treatment if any and family history of diabetes mellitus or hypertension. The information obtained was entered into the questionnaire designed for the survey. All pregnant females were excluded. Results: A total of nine hundred and twenty one (921) adult Nigerians made up of 449 males (48.75%) and 472 females (51.25%) participated in the survey. The age range was 19 to 68 years, mean age was 39.94 ± 8.61 years, mean systolic blood pressure was 129.99 ± 22.85 mmHg and mean diastolic blood pressure was 84.84 ± 28.02 mmHg. A total of 376 of those surveyed were hypertensive giving a prevalence of 40.82%, out of which 49 (13.03%) were aware of being hypertensive and 33 (67.35%) of these were receiving treatment. Among those found to be hypertensive, 17.55% had family history of hypertension, and 12.23% had family history of diabetes mellitus. The mean body mass index (BMI) was 26.14 ± 8.08 kg/m2, 408 (44.30%) had a normal BMI of ≤ 24.9, 343 (37.24%) were overweight (BMI = 25-29.9) and 170 (18.46%) were obese with BMI of ≥ 30. Conclusion: The prevalence of hypertension in Port Harcourt is high and only a small fraction of hypertensives are aware of their condition. There is need for large scale screening and education of the public as a major public health measure to reduce the numerous catastrophic complications of hypertension.

Keywords: Hypertension, Prevalence, Port Harcourt

Port Harcourt Medical Journal Vol. 2 (3) 2008: pp. 218-223

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