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Objective: Assess 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 hypertension

Design and setting: A 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.

Participants: One thousand consecutive, known hypertensives attending the selected facilities for follow-up, and health-care providers working in the above randomly selected facilities, were interviewed.

Results: About 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.

Conclusions: If 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.

(C) 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.