Nationwide prevalence study of hypertension and related non-communicable diseases in The Gambia

Marianne van der Sande, R Bailey, H Faal, W A Banya, P Dolin, O A Nyan, S M Ceesay, G E Walraven, G J Johnson, K P McAdam

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The prevalence of hypertension, diabetes and obesity in The Gambia was assessed in a 1% population sample of 6048 adults over 15 years of age, 572 (9.5%) subjects were hypertensive according to WHO criteria (a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 95 mmHg or above and/or a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 160 mmHg or above); 325 (5.4%) had a DBP of 95 mmHg or above, and 39 (2.3%) a DBP of 105 mmHg or above; 428 (7.1%) had a SBP of 160 mmHg or above. By less conservative criteria (a DBP of 90 mmHg or above and/or SBP of 140 mmHg or above), 24.2% of subjects were hypertensive. The prevalence of hypertension was similar in the major ethnic groups and in urban and rural communities. Age and obesity were risk factors for hypertension; female sex was an additional risk factor for diastolic hypertension. Several communities had a prevalence of diastolic hypertension double the national rate, and significant community clustering of diastolic hypertension (P < 0.01) was confirmed by Monte Carlo methods. Genetic and/or localized environmental factors (such as diet or Schistosoma haematobium infection), may be involved 140 (2.3%) subjects were obese. Obesity was associated with female sex, increasing age, urban environment, non-manual work and diastolic hypertension. Only 14 (0.3%) subjects were found to be diabetic. Hypertension appears to be very prevalent in The Gambia, with a substantial population at risk of developing target organ damage. Further studies to delineate this risk and appropriate interventions to reduce it are needed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1039-1048
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gambia/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension/epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity/epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Population


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