Understanding and managing hypertension in an African sub-district: A multidisciplinary approach

Type Journal Article - Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
Title Understanding and managing hypertension in an African sub-district: A multidisciplinary approach
Volume 35
Issue Suppl 69
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
Page numbers 52-59
Aims: To use a multidisciplinary approach to describe the prevalence, lay beliefs, health impact, and treatment of hypertension in the Agincourt sub-district. Methods: A multidisciplinary team used a range of methods including a crosssectional random sample survey of vascular risk factors in adults aged 35 years and older, and rapid ethnographic assessment. People who had suffered a stroke were identified by a screening questionnaire followed by a detailed history and examination by a clinician to confirm the likely diagnosis of stroke. Workshops were held for nurses working in the local clinics and an audit of blood pressure measuring devices was carried out. Results: Some 43% of the population 35 and over had hypertension. There was no relationship with gender but a strong positive relationship with age. Illnesses were classified by the population as being either African, with personal or social causes, or White/Western, with physical causes. The causes of hypertension were stated to be both physical and social. Main sources of treatment were the clinics and hospitals but people also sought help from churches and traditional healers. Some 84% of stroke survivors had evidence of hypertension. Few people received treatment for hypertension, although good levels of control were achieved in some. Barriers to providing effective treatment included unreliable drug supply and unreliable equipment to measure blood pressure. Conclusions: Hypertension is a major problem among older people in Agincourt. There is potential for effective secondary prevention. The potential for primary prevention is less clear. Further information on diet is required.

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