Objective: To evaluate the prevalence, awareness, treatment and control of hypertension among elderly individuals in Bangladesh and India.
Method: A community-based sample of 1203 elderly individuals (670 women; mean age, 70 years) was selected using a multistage cluster sampling technique from two sites in Bangladesh and three sites in India.
Findings: The overall prevalence of hypertension (WHO-International Society for Hypertension criteria) was 65% (95% confidence interval = 62-67%). The prevalence was higher in urban than rural areas, but did not differ significantly between the sexes. Multiple logistic regression analyses identified a higher body mass index, higher education status and prevalent diabetes mellitus as important correlates of the prevalence of hypertension. Physical activity, rural residence, and current smoking were inversely related to the prevalence of hypertension. Among study subjects who had hypertension, 45% were aware of their condition, 40% were taking anti-hypertensive medications, but only 10% achieved the level established by the US Sixth Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of Hypertension (JNC VI)/WHO criteria. A visit to a physician in the previous year, higher educational attainment and being female emerged as important correlates of hypertension awareness.
Conclusions: Our findings emphasize the need to implement effective and low cost management regimens based on absolute levels of cardiovascular risk appropriate for the economic context. From a public health perspective, the only sustainable approach to the high prevalence of hypertension in the Indian subcontinent is through a strategy to reduce the average blood pressure in the population.