Background: The prevention and control of high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases has not received due attention in many developing countries. This study aims to describe the epidemiology of high blood pressure among adults in Addis Ababa, so as to inform policy and lay the ground for surveillance interventions.
Methods: Addis Ababa is the largest urban centre and national capital of Ethiopia, hosting about 25% of the urban population in the country. A probabilistic sample of adult males and females, 25-64 years of age residing in Addis Ababa city participated in structured interviews and physical measurements. We employed a population based, cross sectional survey, using the World Health Organization instrument for stepwise surveillance (STEPS) of chronic disease risk factors. Data on selected socio-demographic characteristics and lifestyle behaviours, including physical activity, as well as physical measurements such as weight, height, waist and hip circumference, and blood pressure were collected through standardized procedures. Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to estimate the coefficient of variability of blood pressure due to selected socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics, and physical measurements.
Results: A total of 3713 adults participated in the study. About 20% of males and 38% of females were overweight (body-mass-index > or = 25 kg/m2), with 10.8 (9.49, 12.11)% of the females being obese (body-mass-index > or = 30 kg/m2). Similarly, 17% of the males and 31% of the females were classified as having low level of total physical activity. The age-adjusted prevalence (95% confidence interval) of high blood pressure, defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) > or = 140 mmHg (millimetres of mercury) or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) > or = 90 mmHg or reported use of anti-hypertensive medication, was 31.5% (29.0, 33.9) among males and 28.9% (26.8, 30.9) among females.
Conclusion: High blood pressure is widely prevalent in Addis Ababa and may represent a silent epidemic in this population. Overweight, obesity and physical inactivity are important determinants of high blood pressure. There is an urgent need for strategies and programmes to prevent and control high blood pressure, and promote healthy lifestyle behaviours primarily among the urban populations of Ethiopia.