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Hypertension. 2007 Dec;50(6):1012-8. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

Hypertension in sub-saharan Africa: a systematic review.

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Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, UK.


Hypertension is an important public health challenge worldwide. Information on the burden of disease from hypertension is essential in developing effective prevention and control strategies. An up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of the evidence concerning hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa is lacking. A literature search of the PUBMED database was conducted and supplemented by a manual search of bibliographies of retrieved articles. The search was restricted to population based studies on hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa published between January 1975 and May 2006. Data were extracted after a standard protocol and using standard data collection forms. Thirty-seven publications met the inclusion criteria. The prevalence of hypertension varied extensively between and within studies. Prevalence of hypertension was higher in urban than rural studies in all studies that covered both types of area, and also increased with increasing age in most studies. In most studies less than 40% of people with blood pressure above the defined normal range had been previously detected as hypertensive. Of people with previously diagnosed hypertension, less than 30% were on drug treatment in most studies, and less than 20% had blood pressure within the defined normal range. Hypertension is of public health importance in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in urban areas, with evidence of considerable under-diagnosis, treatment, and control. There is an urgent need to develop strategies to prevent, detect, treat, and control hypertension effectively in the African region.

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