High blood pressure is the principal risk factor for stroke, heart failure and kidney failure in the young population in Africa. Control of hypertension is associated with a larger reduction in morbidity and mortality in younger populations compared with the elderly; however, blood pressure control efforts in the young are hampered by scarcity of data on prevalence and factors influencing awareness, treatment and control of hypertension. We aimed to describe the prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension among young adults in a peri-urban district of Uganda and the factors associated with occurrence of hypertension in this population.
This cross-sectional study was conducted between August, 2012 and May 2013 in Wakiso district, a suburban district that that encircles Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. We collected data on socio-demographic characteristics and hypertension status using a modified STEPs questionnaire from 3685 subjects aged 18–40 years selected by multistage cluster sampling. Blood pressure and anthropometric measurements were performed using standardized protocols. Fasting blood sugar and HIV status were determined using a venous blood sample. Association between hypertension status and various biosocial factors was assessed using logistic regression.
The overall prevalence of hypertension was 15 % (95 % CI 14.2 – 19.6) and 40 % were pre-hypertensive. Among the 553 hypertensive participants, 76 (13.7 %) were aware of their diagnosis and all these participants had initiated therapy with target blood pressure control attained in 20 % of treated subjects. Hypertension was significantly associated with the older age-group, male sex and obesity. There was a significantly lower prevalence of hypertension among participants with HIV OR 0.6 (95 % CI 0.4–0.8, P = 0.007).
There is a high prevalence of high blood pressure in this young periurban population of Uganda with sub-optimal diagnosis and control. There is previously undocumented high rate of treatment, a unique finding that may be exploited to drive efforts to control hypertension. Specific programs for early diagnosis and treatment of hypertension among the young should be developed to improve control of hypertension. The relationship between HIV infection and blood pressure requires further clarification by longitudinal studies.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2146-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.