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Hypertension is still the main risk factor for premature death worldwide and, in particular, in low- and middle-income countries. We aimed to assess prehypertension and hypertension prevalence among a predominantly Asian and African population living in urban Suriname, a middle-income country in South America.

Design and method:

We used data from the Healthy Life in Suriname study, in which 1,159 men and women aged 18–70 y living in the capital were randomly selected. Questionnaires on demographic factors, disease history, and use of medication were administered. Ancestry was self-defined. During physical examination in the local hospital, sitting blood pressure was measured in duplo after a 5-minute rest. The prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension were determined according to international guidelines. Differences between sex and ethnic groups were tested using Chi-squared tests and logistic regression analyses.


Participants with missing blood pressures (n = 4) and of other/mixed ethnicity (n = 199) were excluded. Of the remaining 956 participants (64% women; mean age 43 ± 13 y), 497 subjects were Asian-Surinamese (52%) and 459 were African-Surinamese (48%). The overall prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension was, respectively, 39 and 41%. Although hypertension prevalence did not differ between sex (p = 0.49), men had more prehypertension than women (p < 0.01). No differences between Asian- and African-Surinamese were found in the prevalence of prehypertension and unadjusted hypertension. However, after adjusting for age, African-Surinamese had significantly higher odds of having hypertension than their Asian counterparts.


We found a high prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension in this urban-only population. With only 20% having optimal blood pressure levels, this middle-income country faces a high cardiovascular burden. Therefore, drastic preventive measures prioritizing screening and control of hypertension need to be taken in order to safeguard the cardiovascular health of the Surinamese population.

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