O.J. Hussain and A.J. Ajuwon
Department of Health Promotion and Education, Faculty of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.
Background: Hypertension is a major global health problem. Armed forces personnel are at increased risk of hypertension due to the nature of their occupation as early responders. There is dearth of data on knowledge and prevalence of hypertension among police officers in Ibadan, Nigeria. This study was conducted to address this gap in knowledge.
Methods: A total of 170 police officers participated in the study. A questionnaire was used to document demographic profile, knowledge and practices to prevent hypertension. Abdominal circumference and blood pressure were measured among study participants. A digital Omron HEM 8712 blood pressure monitor was used to assess BP and a non-stretchable measuring tape was used to determine waist circumference. Hypertension was assessed by >140/90 mmHg and abdominal obesity by >80cm for female and >94cm for male.
Results: Mean age of respondents was 36.7±8.4 years; more than half (64.7%) were males. Majority (47.6%) had fair knowledge of hypertension. The prevalence of abdominal obesity and hypertension were 51.7% and 17.5% respectively. About a tenth (11.4%) were both hypertensive and obese. More females than males’ respondents had abdominal obesity (p=0.00); while more males (19.3%) than females (14.0%) were hypertensive (p=0.39). About two-third (68.2%) reported involvement in unhealthy preventive practices including consumption of alcohol, foods high in salt and fat content, and tobacco smoking. Older, married and senior officers were significantly at higher risk of being hypertensive than younger, never married, and junior officers.
Conclusion: Police officers have adequate knowledge of hypertension but many in this group are hypertensive. Clinical and educational interventions are recommended to address the problem.
Dept. of Health Promotion and
Faculty of Public Health,
College of Medicine,
University of Ibadan
Hypertension is a major public health problem.1 It is the main risk factor for cardiovascular complications such as coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke or renal insufficiency. It affects approximately one billion people worldwide (that is 4.5% of the current global disease burden). Hypertension causes 7.1 million annual global preventable premature deaths.2,3,4 Overall, global prevalence of hypertension among adults was estimated to be 26.6% in men and 26.1% in women2. The number of adults with hypertension in 2025 has been predicted to increase by 60% to a total of 1.56 billion adults.2,5
Occupation is one of the important risk factors of hypertension. Emergency responders, including fire fighters and police officers, have the second highest prevalence of hypertension (26%) among occupational groups, yet they have some of the lowest rates of awareness (51%), treatment (79%) and control (48%) interventions.6 There are several physical, behavioural and psychological factors that predispose emergency responders to hypertension. For example, the strenuous work circumstances associated with this occupation may elevate the blood pressure among this population which in turn triggers the occurrence of coronary disease. Their work schedule also involves long stretches of relative inactivity, followed by unpredictable and stressful bursts of high intensity events that demand urgently responding to life threatening emergencies.7 This produces adrenergic rush and higher demands on cardiovascular systems.7
Several studies have confirmed a trend toward increasing cardiovascular risk factors among military personnel.8,9,10 Al Asmary et al., in a community based screening among military active duty personnel in Saudi-Arabia, reported prevalence of undiagnosed hypertension of 17.5% and a combined prevalence of overweight/obesity of 66.8 %..11 In Brazil, prevalence of overweight/obesity among young military personnel was estimated at 36%.12 Another study in Sudan reported prevalence of undiagnosed hypertension and overweight/obesity as 69.9% and 49.2%, respectively among the police.13 In Nigeria, Aliyu et al., studied the prevalence of undiagnosed hypertension among military personnel.14 However, there are limited studies about this subject among police officers despite their occupational risk to hypertension. Among emergency responders, police officers are particularly vulnerable15 because of poor nutrition (sometimes attributable to limited opportunities for healthy food), long hours of duty, shift duty, sleep deprivation, exposure to noise from siren, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and inadequate knowledge of preventive measures.16 We present in this article findings from a research designed to determine prevalence of hypertension among police officers in Ibadan, Nigeria. Findings from this descriptive cross-sectional study is needed because it will serve as a basis for developing appropriate hypertension prevention and treatment interventions in this population.