Is One-Third Of Nigeria’s Population Hypertensive? #UNPROVEN


The Nigeria Hypertension Society (NHS) has said that one-third of Nigeria’s adult population is hypertensive. The president of the Society, Ayodele Omotoso, a Professor with the Cardiology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), disclosed this in a statement issued on Thursday, May 17, 2018 to commemorate the World Hypertension Day.

THE CLAIM:

  1. One-third of Nigeria’s adult population is hypertensive.

VERIFICATION OF CLAIM:

DUBAWA contacted Mr. Omotoso who told our team that several studies have proven his claim. He said, “That means about 33% of the Nigeria’s adult population is hypertensive. There have been studies, the earlier studies of 1992 or thereabout gave a cut off not as high as that. But other studies from Lagos, from Port Harcourt, and different parts of the country and new global studies involving over 70 countries including Nigeria show that”.

Mr. Omotoso, however, did not respond to DUBAWA’s request for the data that supported his claim. As such, we made use of academic research, statistics from national and international bodies to verify the claim.

DEFINING HYPERTENSION:

According to Farlex Medical Dictionary, hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It is defined as having a blood pressure reading of more than 140/90 mmHg.

“Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure the harder the heart has to pump,” says WHO. The extra workload can make the heart muscle thicken and stretch. When the heart becomes too enlarged it cannot pump enough blood. If the hypertension is not treated, the heart may fail.

HYPERTENSION SEEMS TO BE ON THE RISE IN NIGERIA

A research paper on the knowledge of hypertension conducted in the University of Ibadan in 2011 states that the prevalence of hypertension in Nigeria in the 90s and early 2000 was not as high as it is now. About 11% of Nigeria’s adult population was said to be hypertensive at that time.

CURRENT ADULT POPULATION IN NIGERIA

In April 2018, the National Population Commission, stated that Nigeria’s present population is 198 million people with an adult population of 94,542,114 people (including men and women), according to the last world population review of 2018.

Based on this figure, one-third (33%) of Nigeria’s adult population would be 31,514,038.

LACK OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE CLAIM

In Nigeria, few people go for routine medical check-ups to monitor the risk factors associated with noncommunicable diseases of which hypertension is included. An investigative report shows that non-communicable diseases are not taken seriously in Nigeria. The problem of hypertension is even worse in Africa because people are not aware of the necessity for or unable to afford regular blood pressure checks, says WHO. So if people do not go to the hospitals for health checks, how do we know the exact number of people who are hypertensive in Nigeria?

Dr. Sunmonu Aliyu of the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Ile Ife, told DUBAWA that studies over the years have proven the claim of NHS “that the hypertension rate among adults in the country is one-third. This simply means 33% of the adult out there are hypertensive. Although, many people are not aware of this and that has really caused more harm than good.”

Like Mr. Omotoso of NHS, Mr. Aliyu also did not respond to our request seeking data to support his claim. He rather continued to lay emphasis on the fact that as a medical practitioner, he can authoritatively give us the figure.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REPORTS

The claim that one-third of Nigeria’s adult population is hypertensive appears to have first surfaced from the 2012 WHO report. According to the Statistics, one in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure – a condition that causes around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease. It stressed that more than 40% (and up to 50%) of adults in many countries in Africa are estimated to have high blood pressure.

Similarly, a study on the prevalence of hypertension among Nigeria’s population in a particular community resulted in 33.1%. The study (as obtained in the 2016 Nigerian Journal of Cardiology) used the WHO STEPwise approach (STEPS 1 & 2) to obtain information from 806 respondents between the ages of 18 and 90 from 171 households. The results showed that the overall prevalence of hypertension was 33.1% (male 36.8% and female 31.1%); the proportion of self-reported hypertension was 11.1%, while 5.1% were currently on anti-hypertensive medication. Unfortunately, this study was conducted on just a particular community, and cannot be representative of the entire country.

VARYING FIGURES EXIST

Although there is a very limited number of studies on hypertension in Nigeria, a number of surveys still exist albeit with varying statistics. The most recent survey conducted in 2017 puts the hypertension rate at 44.9%, which is directly at odds with the WHO figure in that same year.

Speaking at the 2017 World Hypertension Day event organised by Nestle Nigeria Plc and Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), a Professor of Cardiology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Amam Mbakwem, said that “a recent national multistage survey of 13,591 Nigerians gave a 44.9% prevalence of hypertension.”

Meanwhile, the WHO report of that same year (2017) revealed that Nigeria tops the percentage of adult hypertension rate in Africa with 35%. The countries included in the list were Seychelles (40%), Cabo Verde (39%), Sao Tome and Principe (39%), Ghana (37%), Niger (36%) and Nigeria (35%).

CONCLUSION:

Although the WHO claims that one-third of the world’s adult population is hypertensive and experts in the Nigerian medical industry believe that a third of its population is hypertensive, there has been no recent nationwide survey to prove the percentage of hypertension in Nigeria, especially due to the fact that a large percentage of the country’s population do not report such cases. The limited number of reports on hypertensive seem to be at odds, with varying figures.

Evidence shows that the rate of hypertension in the adult population of Nigeria is high, nevertheless, the lack of facts and figures show that the claim is UNPROVEN!

Adejumo Kabir is a student journalist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is a great researcher who loves community journalism and supports all aspects of public enlightenment.He has experience writing well-researched papers for online publications.