INTRODUCTION: Hypertension and cardiovascular risk factors are widespread in developing countries, but little is known about cardiovascular risk profiles in rural communities from Ibero-America and the Caribbean. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the peer-reviewed literature published from 1990 to 2012 relating to the prevalence of hypertension in rural populations from Ibero-America and the Caribbean.
METHODS: A bibliographic search was conducted in MEDLINE, SCIELO and LILACS databases. Included were population-based studies in which prevalence of hypertension in adults was reported.
RESULTS: A total of 30 peer-reviewed publications were identified that reported the prevalence of hypertension in 33 143 patients. The crude hypertension prevalence reported from rural Ibero-America was 32.6% (95% confidence interval: 31.4-32.5%; range: 1.8-52%). The prevalence of hypertension was lower in aboriginal populations than in other rural communities (19.5% vs 36%). Only nine studies assessed the awareness, treatment, and level of control of hypertension (means 54%, 57%, and 14% respectively). The most prevalent cardiovascular risk factors were abdominal obesity (39%) and overweight (39%).
CONCLUSIONS: Hypertension is of public health importance in rural Ibero-America and the Caribbean, with evidence of considerable under-diagnosis, treatment, and control. There is an urgent need to develop strategies to prevent, detect, treat, and control hypertension effectively in this region.