Towards prevention of hypertension in Nigeria: a study of prehypertension and its associations among apparently healthy adults in Umuahia, South-East Nigeria

Chimezie Godswill Okwuonu, Stanley Chidozie Ngoka, Oluchi Justina Chimezie, Tochukwu Hycinth Eze, Kelechukwu Uwanurochi, Augustus Ugwunna Mbanaso


Background: The prevalence of hypertension is on the increase in Nigeria. Prehypertension is considered a precursor of hypertension and a predictor of excessive cardiovascular risk.
Identifying individuals with prehypertension and initiating effective measures will aid in reducing the incidence and prevalence of hypertension in our environment. The aim of this study was to quantify the magnitude of prehypertension and determine its associations among adults in a representative semi‑urban Nigerian population.
Methods: A cross-sectional study which was carried out in a semi‑urban setting in Southeast Nigeria. Blood pressure (BP) was measured using the standard methods. A cardiovascular risk factor screening based on physical characteristics, individual medical, and family history of participants was done.
Results: There were a total of 389 participants comprising 223 (57.3%) males and 116 (42.7%) females; male:female ratio been 1.9:1. The prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension were 45.5% and 37.8%, respectively. Males were significantly more likely to have prehypertension than
females (61% vs. 39% respectively; OR = 1.32, P = 0.03). There was a weak positive significant correlation between age and both systolic (r = 0.16, P < 0.01) and diastolic (r = 0.12, P = 0.02) blood pressures. Up to 72.6% of individuals with prehypertension have abnormal body mass index (BMI). While up to 8.5% of the participants had a family history of cardiovascular disease, 20.3%, and 17.3% had a history of significant intake of alcohol and smoking, respectively.
Conclusions: The prevalence of prehypertension in the community was high. It was associated with increasing age, male gender, and increasing BMI. Interventions at this stage may aid in stemming the rising prevalence of hypertension in our environment.
Keywords: Body mass index, cardiovascular risk factors, hypertension, Nigeria, obesity,

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