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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Risk factors of hypertension among adults aged 35–64 years living in an urban slum Nairobi, Kenya

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Beatrice Olack, Fred Wabwire-Mangen, Liam Smeeth, Joel M. Montgomery, Noah Kiwanuka, Robert F. Breiman
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

BO coordinated the study, analysed the data and wrote the original manuscript. LS, RB, FW, JM and NK participated in development of the study, and helped to draft the manuscript. All co-authors contributed to subsequent revisions and approved the final manuscript.



Hypertension is an emerging public health problem in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and urbanization is considered to favor its emergence. Given a paucity of information on hypertension and associated risk factors among urban slum dwellers in SSA, we aimed to characterize the distribution of risk factors for hypertension and investigate their association with hypertension in an urban slum in Kenya.


We conducted a community based cross-sectional survey among adults 35 years and older living in Kibera slum Nairobi, Kenya. Trained interviewers collected data on socio demographic characteristics and self reported health behaviours using modified World Health Organization stepwise surveillance questionnaire for chronic disease risk factors. Anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were performed following standard procedures. Multiple logistic regression was used for analysis and odds ratios with 95 % confidence intervals were calculated to identify risk factors associated with hypertension.


A total of 1528 adults were surveyed with a mean age of 46.7 years. The age-standardized prevalence of hypertension was 29.4 % (95 % CI 27.0–31.7). Among the 418 participants classified as hypertensive, over one third (39.0 %) were unaware they had hypertension. Prevalence of current smoking and alcohol consumption was 8.5 and 13.1 % respectively. Over one quarter 26.2 % participants were classified as overweight (Body Mass Index [BMI] ≥25 to ≤29.9 kg/m2), and 17 % classified as obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2). Overweight, obesity, current smoking, some level of education, highest wealth index, moderate physical activity, older age and being widowed were each independently associated with hypertension. When fit in a multivariable logistic regression model, being a widow [AOR = 1.7; (95 % CI, 1.1–2.6)], belonging to the highest wealth index [AOR = 1.6; (95 % CI, 1.1–2.5)], obesity [AOR = 1.8; 95 % CI, 1.1–3.1)] and moderate physical activity [AOR = 1.9; (95 % CI, 1.2–3.0)], all remained significantly associated with hypertension.


Hypertension in the slum is a public health problem affecting at least one in three adults aged 35–64 years. Age, marital status, wealth index, physical inactivity and body mass index are important risk factors associated with hypertension. Prevention measures targeting the modifiable risk factors associated with hypertension are warranted to curb hypertension and its progressive effects.
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