Objective: To report the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, particularly of systemic arterial hypertension, in the adult population of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, in addition to the public's level of awareness, hypertensive control, and associated factors.
Methods: A cross-sectional, population-based study with random sampling from a population pool was carried out with 918 patients older than 20 years from 1999 to 2000. Systemic arterial hypertension was defined as blood pressure > or = 140/90 or current use of antihypertensive drugs.
Results: The prevalence of systemic arterial hypertension was 33.7% (n = 309), and 49.2% of the individuals were unaware of their hypertensive condition; 10.4% knew they were hypertensive, but did not undergo treatment; 30.1% underwent antihypertensive treatment, but did not have adequate control; and 10.4% underwent antihypertensive treatment with adequate control. Based on multivariate analysis, the following variables were found to be significantly associated with the presence of systemic arterial hypertension: age (OR = 1.06), obesity (OR = 3.03), and low educational level (OR = 1.82). These same variables were associated with unawareness of the hypertensive condition: age (OR = 1.05), obesity (OR = 2.46), and low educational level (OR = 2.17).
Conclusion: Prevalence of systemic arterial hypertension in the state of Rio Grande do Sul has been remained at constant levels for the past decades, and the population's level of awareness of it has improved slightly. However, the control level of systemic arterial hypertension has not increased. This study allowed the definition of a target group -- elderly, obese individuals with low educational level -- for both diagnostic campaigns and better control of blood pressure levels.