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Determinants of systemic hypertension in older adults in Africa: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number173
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/07/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Cardiovascular Disorders
Number of pages24
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


An estimated 55% of older adults in Africa have systemic hypertension, a major risk factor for stroke, heart failure and dementia in the region. The risk factors associated with hypertension in this population group in Africa have not been systematically evaluated. We, therefore, undertook a systematic review to identify these risk factors.

We searched for population-based studies of adults aged ≥50 years living in Africa and reporting an estimate of hypertension and associated risk factors. We included articles published in any language between January 1980 and May 2018 using a comprehensive search strategy. We extracted data including the sample characteristics, prevalence of hypertension and risk factors with their effect sizes.

From an initial 10,719 records, we retained 63 eligible full text articles for review out of which we analyzed 23 studies made up of 19 primary and four multiple publications which had data on risk factors from bivariate or multivariable analysis. The primary studies, published from 2010 to 2018, involved a total of 30,500 participants in 12 different countries with mean ages ranging from 62.7 ± 9 years to 76.9 ± 8.4 years. Through narrative synthesis, we found consistent determinants of hypertension (overweight/obesity and history of stroke), less consistent but frequent determinants (including older age group, female sex and urban residence), inconsistent determinants (including education, wealth index, alcohol intake and physical activity) and nonsignificant covariates (marital status and having health insurance). Overall, the highest adjusted odds ratios were those associated with obesity and history of stroke.

The key determinants of systemic hypertension in older adults in Africa are older age group, overweight/obesity, history of stroke and female sex. Health programmes should promote weight reduction throughout the life course, including during the middle and older age of African adults.