South Africa has one of the highest levels of hypertension globally. According to national and regional surveys, a whopping 35 – 49% of South African adults are estimated to be hypertensive, with at least one-third of the population unaware of their hypertensive status, and, at best, 25% on medication (Ware et al, 2018, p. 1).
With South Africa’s overburdened public healthcare systems and low levels of private medical aid coverage, managing and preventing hypertension is vital. To do this, it is important first to understand what the key predictors of hypertension are.
According to the WHO-SAGE population survey, the key predictors of hypertension and hypertension awareness include:
According to the survey, individuals with diabetes were twice as likely to have hypertension, and seven times more likely to be aware.
The survey highlighted poverty as a major vulnerability.
Women and individuals who reported lower salt intake were more likely to be aware of and treated for hypertension.
According to the study, a higher BMI category contributed significantly to having hypertension.
Results displayed higher awareness rates among older women.
Despite the high prevalence of hypertension – or “high high” as more commonly referred to colloquially – in South Africa, both awareness and control are low. The study also highlighted the need for improved health promotion efforts to increase knowledge of hypertension.
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Ware, L.J., Chidumwa, G., Charlton, K., Schutte, A.E. and Kowal, P., 2019. Predictors of hypertension awareness, treatment and control in South Africa: results from the WHO-SAGE population survey (Wave 2). Journal of human hypertension, 33(2), pp. 157-166. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41371-018-0125-3.