In low- and middle-income nations, hypertension is the major cause of illness and mortality (LMICs). However, information on the incidence of hypertension in rural regions is scarce. For a study, researchers sought to describe the prevalence of hypertension in rural communities. The MUTU project collected data from two rural municipalities as part of the baseline evaluation of a quasi-experimental study examining whether community-health workers can diagnose and treat hypertension (NCT 04521582). From April-July 2021, they questioned all municipal inhabitants aged 25 to 70 at their houses.
At the home visit, three blood pressure (BP) values were taken; the average of the last two readings was evaluated. About 10,974 adults were tested in total. SBP and DBP averages were 125.6 (SD 20.3) and 84.2 (SD 11.9) mmHg, respectively; 27.7% (n=3,048) had high SBP >140 and/or DBP >90 mmHg (‘high BP’). Around 13.1% of all screenees had unrecognized high BP, and 1.7% had BP of 180/120 mmHg (‘extremely high BP’). About 52.8% of individuals with high blood pressure were aware, 16.9% (n=483) were on antihypertensive medication, and 6.2% (n=191) had BP 180/120 mmHg. Of the 2,123 individuals with high blood pressure who were eligible for MUTU (excluding criteria: BP medication, heart illness, diabetes, breast-feeding, pregnant, and planned migration), 2,049 had their blood pressure checked again 1-2 weeks later, and hypertension was confirmed in 1,432 of them (69.9%). About 5.8% had isolated increased SBP, 33.8% had isolated elevated DBP, and the majority (60.4%) had elevated SBP plus DBP. In the home-based BP screening program in a rural area, 13% of persons aged 25-70 years had unrecognized high BP, with 2% having BP 180/120 mmHg. These findings emphasize the need for community-based BP screening as well as the necessity for effective treatment programs in rural areas.