Barriers to management of cardiovascular risk in a low-resource setting using hypertension as an entry point

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ObjectiveAssess capacity of health-care facilities in a low-resource setting to implement the absolute risk approach for assessment of cardiovascular risk in hypertensive patients and effective management of hypertensionDesign and settingA descriptive cross-sectional study in Egbeda and Oluyole local government areas of Oyo State in Nigeria in 56 randomly selected primary- (n = 42) and secondary-level (n = 2) health-care and private health-care (n = 12) facilities.ParticipantsOne thousand consecutive, known hypertensives attending the selected facilities for follow-up, and health-care providers working in the above randomly selected facilities, were interviewed.ResultsAbout two-thirds of hypertensives utilized primary-care centers both for diagnosis and for follow-up. Laboratory and other investigations to exclude secondary hypertension or to assess target organ damage were not available in the majority of facilities, particularly in primary care. A considerable knowledge and awareness gap related to hypertension and its complications was found, both among patients and health-care providers. Blood pressure control rates were poor [28% with systolic blood pressure (SBP) < 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) < 90 mmHg] and drug prescription patterns were not evidence based and cost effective. The majority of patients (73%) in this low socio-economic group (mean monthly income US$73) had to pay fully, out of their own pocket, for consultations and medications.ConclusionsIf the absolute risk approach for assessment of risk and effective management of hypertension is to be implemented in low-resource settings, appropriate policy measures need to be taken to improve the competency of health-care providers, to provide basic laboratory facilities and to develop affordable financing mechanisms.

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