Blood pressure patterns and cardiovascular risk factors in rural and urban gambian communities

M A van der Sande, P J Milligan, Ousman A Nyan, J T Rowley, W A Banya, S M Ceesay, W.M.V. Dolmans, T. Thien, Keith P W J McAdam, G E L Walraven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Hypertension is emerging as an important public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. We studied blood pressure (BP) patterns, hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors in a rural and an urban area of The Gambia. A total of 5389 adults (> or =15 years) were selected by cluster sampling in the capital Banjul and a rural area around Farafenni. A questionnaire was completed, BP, pulse rate, height and weight were recorded. Glucose was measured 2 h after a 75 g glucose load among participants > or =35 years (n = 2301); total cholesterol, triglycerides, creatinine and uric acid were measured among a stratified subsample (n = 1075). A total of 7.1% of the study participants had a BP > or =160/95 mm Hg; 18.4% of them had a BP > or =140/90 mm Hg. BP was significantly higher in the urban area. BP increased with age in both sexes in both areas. Increasing age was the major independent risk factor for hypertension. Related cardiovascular risk factors (obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia) were significantly more prevalent in the urban area and among hypertensives; 17% of measured hypertensives were aware of this, 73% of people who reported to have been diagnosed as hypertensive before had discontinued treatment; 56% of those who reported being on treatment were normotensive. We conclude that hypertension is no longer rare in either urban or rural Gambians. In the urban site hypertension and related cardiovascular risk factors were more prevalent. Compliance with treatment was low. Interventions aimed at modifying risk factors at the population level, and at improving control of diagnosed hypertension are essential to prevent future increases of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. In view of limited resources and feasibility of intervention in rural Gambia, these could initially be directed towards urbanised populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-96
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of human hypertension
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Female
  • Gambia
  • Humans
  • Hypertension
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health
  • Urban Health
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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