Hypertension is predominantly a disorder of populations in which the
fundamental problem is the tendency for blood pressure to rise with age
(Perry and Beevan, 1992). Ten to fifteen percent of the world`s population
suffers from hypertension and majority of them are elderly (Yeoleker and
Shete, 2002). The lifetime risk of hypertension for individuals 55 years
old is approximately 90% (Vasan et al., 2002). Prospective data
on the associations between diet and nutrient components with risk of
hypertension remain limited (Wang et al., 2008).
Based on the Malaysian National Health and Morbidity survey of 1996,
a survey of 21,391 individuals over the age of 30 showed a high prevalence
of high blood pressure (Lim et al., 2000). According to the same
survey, the prevalence of hypertension in adults aged 30 years and above
was 24%. Numerous hypertensive cases are not detected due to a simple
lack of routine check-up (WHO MONICA Project, 1989). However, it is a
significant and independent risk factor for coronary heart disease morbidity
and mortality, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and history of coronary
heart disease. Cardiovascular diseases are major health problems not only
in the developed countries but also in developing countries such as Malaysia.
In the United States (US) over the last two decades, the National High
Blood Pressure Education Program of the US has been remarkably successful
in increasing detection, treatment and control of hypertension in the
US population (Joint National Committee on Detection, 1993).
Influence of obesity as determinant of cardiovascular risk factors has
not been well studied. Obesity is a major and independent cardiovascular
and hypertension risk factor (Gupta et al., 2007; Aguilar et
Cardiovascular disease has emerged as the principle cause of mortality
and hypertension is a prevalent cardiovascular risk factor in our population
(Kandiah et al., 1980). Though hypertension among the elderly has
become a public concern, hypertensives often remain undetected in the
community until they present with cardiovascular complications (Lim, 1991).
Late detection will not only burden the individual but also the government
due to high cost of treatments.
The health of individuals be they elderly or otherwise, need to be approached
in a broad, comprehensive and holistic perspective, that includes not
only the biological but also environmental, lifestyle and health care
aspects, all of which have a bearing on where an individual fits into
an illness-wellness continuum. Hypertension is predominantly the commonest
disorder of the population and there is a tendency for blood pressure
to rise with age (John and Arokiasamy, 2000).
Specific suggestion and recommendation can also be generated from the
study to educate UPM staff to prevent hypertension as early as possible.
The main objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of hypertension
and its associated risk factors among UPM retirees in Klang Valley, Malaysia.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This cross-sectional study consisted of two categories. The first category
was a descriptive research involving measurement of blood pressure, followed
by a brief face to face interview. The second category was a qualitative
data to obtain information related to gender, marital and smoking behavior.
Study was carried out at Faculty of Medicine and Sciences, University
Putra Malaysia (UPM). A total of 210 persons were eligible and invited
to participate into the study based on the prevalence of hypertension
within acceptable confidence limits. Each member was given an invitation
letter and consent to participate in the study. The participants were
interviewed in the first half an hour using a pre-tested and structured
questionnaire administered by an interviewer to collect information on
socio-demographic variables, history of self-reported diagnosis hypertension,
dietary habits, history of smoking, stress level and level of awareness.
At the end of the interview, heights, weights and blood pressure were
measured according the National High Blood Pressure (1993). Fasting blood
samples were taken to measure the serum lipid and blood glucose according
to the standard enzymatic techniques. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated.
BMI values ≥ 27.5 was defined as obesity (Clinical Practice Guidelines
on Management of Obesity, 2003) which was considered as a risk factor.
Measurement of fasting serum lipid levels and blood glucose was carried
out. Subjects having ≥ 5.2 mmol L-1 of total cholesterol
level (National Cholesterol Education Program, 2002) and ≥ 6.7 mmol
L-1 fasting glucose (Clinical Practice Guidelines, 2002) at
baseline laboratory examination were defined as having dyslipidemia and
diabetes respectively, which was also considered as a risk factor. Subjects
with medical history of diabetes and currently on anti-diabetic medication
were also classified as diabetic. Blood pressure was measured based on
recommendation by Malaysian Guideline for Good Clinical Practice (2002).
Blood pressure was measured after 30 min rest in the right arm supported
on a table at heart level with the patient seated. They were also abstained
from smoking or ingested caffeine within that time. Three readings were
taken and their mean was
recorded as the actual pressure. Hypertension for this study was a systolic
pressure of greater than 140 mmHg and or diastolic pressure of above 90
mmHg regardless of age. Isolated systolic hypertension as SBP >140
mmHg and DBP <90 mmHg was also noted ((Joint National Commission, 1997).
Reported level of physical activity was divided into three categories:
no activity, low activity and high activity, according to the criteria
used by Sharabi et al. (2004). Smoking status was defined as current
smoker, former smoker, or never smoked. Subjects answering positively
to questions about whether a doctor had ever told them that they had heart
failure, a previous heart attack, diabetes, or stroke were classified
as having an additional risk factor. Self-reported family history was
also considered as an additional risk factor. Participants were asked
to state their previous and current employment as professional or general
worker. Educational level was divided into three categories: primary,
secondary or tertiary. Fruits and vegetables intake was divided into three
categories: <3 servings per day, < 3 servings per day or do not
include fruits and vegetables in meal. Salt intake was defined as high:
<6 g of sodium chloride a day and low: < 6 g of sodium chloride
a day (Whelton et al., 1998).
Data analysis: All statistical analyses were performed with using
SPSS 10.0 (Statistical Package for Social Science). Descriptive statistics
including means and SDs for the outcome variables of interest were computed.
The probability levels of significance reported are based on the 2-tailed
t-test. Correlations test were used to determine the association between
hypertension and the different variables.
Socio-demographic profiles and characteristics of respondents:
The proportion of male participants (84.93%) was greater than that of
females (15.07%). The mean age was 60.0±5.41 with a minimum age
of 47 years and the maximum of 79 years (Table 1). The
Malays formed the majority 94.52%, followed by Chinese 4.11% and Indians
1.37%. Table 2 shows the socio-demographic of the respondents
9.59% of the elderly participants were living without spouse of whom 6.85%
were widows and 2.74% were widowers. The rest 90.41% were living as couple.
The study found 43.55% of males received tertiary education compared to
only 27.27% of females. Most of the females studied reported their education
was until primary level (54.55%). 41.09% of the respondents were previously
worked as professionals in UPM and 58.91% were as general workers. Only
9.58% were current smokers and all of them were males. Majority (95.89%)
included vegetables and fruits in their daily meals and 73.97% of
||Socio-demographic profile of the respondents
|Data were expressed as mean±SD
||Characteristics of the respondents
|Values within parenthesis indicate percentage (%)
respondents practiced low salt intake in their food habit. 65.75% (48)
of the respondents were engaging active to moderate activity and which
showed higher percentage in both males (66.13%) and females (63.64%).
||Prevalence of hypertension status by age-sex-ethnic
|*p-value is significance if (p<0.05), Data were expressed
problems were recorded in 45.21% of the participants and diabetes was
shown to be the highest health problem (27.4%). 39.73% had a positive
family history of hypertension which was classified as having an additional
risk factor. Overall mean BMI was 25.98±3.79.The mean BMI for male
was 25.95±3.8 and 26.14±3.86 for female.
Prevalence of hypertension: The overall prevalence of hypertension
in the study sample was 32.88% (24) of the 73 respondents, 30 self-claimed
to have hypertension (Table 3), giving a prevalence of
41.10%. However after the assessment, 9.59% (7) were detected to have
high blood pressure. The mean age for hypertensive was 62.42±6.13.
There was no significant difference in the prevalence of hypertension
with increasing age (p>0.05). High prevalence (75%) were observed in
the age group 70 years and above (Table 3). No significant sex difference
(p = 0.789) was observed in the prevalence of hypertension. The Indians
had the highest rate of prevalence (100%), followed by Chinese (66.67%)
and Malays (30.43%). However, there was no significant difference among
the different ethnic groups (p = 0.151).
Distribution of hypertensives according to their cardiovascular risk
factors: Table 4 shows that primary education was
the most frequently observed (70.83%) among the hypertensives and showed
the highest prevalence of hypertension (60.71%). Only 16.67% (4) tertiary
educated hypertensives were observed, giving the lowest prevalence of
13.33%. Among the hypertensives, 83.33% (20) were previously worked as
general workers while only 16.67 (4) were professional workers. Fifty
percent (12) of the total hypertensives had stopped smoking and only 12.5%
(3) were current smokers. In general, current smokers showed the highest
||Characteristics of hypertensives and prevalence of hypertension
|Values within parenthesis indicate percentage (%), HTNsv
of hypertension (42.86%). Majority of the respondents (96%) included
vegetables and fruits in their daily meals and 75% had low salt intake
in their food habit. The prevalence of hypertension was higher in both
diabetics (60%) and heart disease patients (66.67%). Diabetes was the
most frequently suffered health problem among the hypertensives (50.0%),
followed by heart disease (16.67%) and stroke (4%) which was classified
as having an additional risk factor. 41.67% (10) hypertensives had a positive
family history of hypertension and 37.5% (9) had a positive family history
of diabetes. The prevalence of hypertension among respondents with both
positive family history of hypertension and diabetes were found to be
similar (34.48%). Most of the hypertensives (66.67%) admitted that they
practiced active to moderate activity and only 33.33% engaged light activity.
Overall mean BMI for hypertensives was 26.35±3.08. Mean BMI for
male was 26.25±2.81 and 26.83±4.73 for females. 45.83% (11)
of the hypertensive were overweight, 41.67% (10) of them were obese and
only 12.5% (3) had normal BMI. Obese hypertensive showed the highest prevalence
of hypertension (38.48%), followed by overweight
||Distribution of blood pressure level by gender
|Values within parenthesis indicate percentage (%)
||Mean systolic blood pressure by age group, gender and
|SBP: Systolic blood pressure, *p-value is significance
if (p<0.05), Data were expressed as mean±SD
hypertensive (36.67%) and normal weight hypertensives (20%). Fifty percent
of the females hypertensive were obese as compared to only 40% in males.
Distribution of blood pressure level by gender: Only 19.18% individuals
in the study sample had optimal blood pressure (Table 5).
Females had a higher percentage (36.36%) of optimal blood pressure than
males (16.13%). Out of hypertensive subjects (n = 24), 75% had mild hypertension
(Stage 1) while 20.83% had moderate hypertension (Stage 2) and 4.17% of
the hypertensives suffered from severe hypertension (Stage 3). Among hypertensive
subjects 50% (12) has isolated systolic hypertension (ISH).
Mean blood pressure: The overall mean systolic was 133.73±16.35
and overall mean diastolic was 81.99±9.46. The mean SBP of the
respondents with hypertension was 152.29±11.29 and mean SBP for
normotensives was 124.63±9.11. There was a significant overall
mean DBP difference between normotensives and hypertensives (p = 0.001)
(Table 6, 7). There was a general tendency
for mean Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) to rise progressively and significantly
(p = 0.007) with increasing age beyond the age 50-59 but Diastolic Blood
Pressure (DBP) tended
||Mean diastolic blood pressure by age group, gender and
ethnic p-value Mean DBP Mean DBP
|DBP: Diastolic blood pressure, *p-value is significance
if (p<0.05), Data were expressed as mean±SD
||Association of continuous variables with hypertension
|*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed),
**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)
to decline (Table 8). The overall mean SBP was highest
(151.75±18.19) in the age group 70 years and above which also seen
in both normotensives (131.00±0.0) and hypertensives (158.67±14.47)
in the same age group. There was a significant mean SBP difference between
normotensives and hypertensives in the age group 50-59 years (p = 0.00)
and 60-69 years (p = 0.00) but there was no significant mean DBP difference
in both age group.
There was not much overall SBP difference between the two genders (p
= 0.921). Overall mean DBP was slightly lower (80.55±11.47) in
females. There was a significant difference in mean SBP (p = 0.009) and
mean DBP (p = 0.032) in various ethnics. The Indians had the highest average
SBP (169.00±0.0) and DBP (100.00±0.0), followed by Chinese
and Malays. Malays had the lowest average SBP (132.41±15.18) for
both genders while Chinese had the lowest average DBP (72.33±5.86).
All significance differences were at 95% confidence level.
Association between hypertension and the risk factors: Correlations
test was used to determine the association between hypertension and the
different continuous variables (age, BMI, fasting blood glucose, total
cholesterol, triglyceride (TG), High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low
Density Lipoprotein (LDL). Chi-square test was used to determine the association
||Association between hypertension and different variables
|*p-value is significance if (p<0.05)
hypertension and the different descriptive variables. The association
of age, BMI and various descriptive variables with hypertension was determined
among the 24 hypertensive subjects. The association between blood pressure
and fasting blood glucose, TG, HDL and LDL however was determined among
32 subjects who were agreed to draw their blood.
There was no significant association between systolic blood pressure
and age, BMI, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, TG, HDL and LDL
in this study (Table 8). There was a significant negative relationship
between diastolic blood pressure and age. Positively significant association
was observed between diastolic blood pressure and BMI. Hypertension was
significantly related to literacy (χ2 = 16.51, df = 2,
p<0.05) and previous job (χ2 = 8.82, df = 1, p<0.05)
in UPM (Table 9). There was no significant association
between hypertension and the other variables.
The definition and concern of hypertension in this study was based on
a single measurement with individuals who currently have their SBP ≥
140 mmHg and or DBP> 90 mmHg. Clearly, the researcher was looking at
an extremely grave situation. The prevalence rates found here are among
the highest reported in the literature. Population blood distribution
can help the high prevalence of hypertension will result in heavy burden
of illnesses related cardiovascular morbidities.
In this study the newly diagnosed high blood pressure was lower (9.6%)
compared to the findings in National Health and Morbidity Survey, 1997
(15.9%). Isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) was detected in 50% among
the elderly hypertensives in the study sample, 41.67% in males and 8.33%
in females. The distribution of hypertension in those aged 65-88 years
in the Framingham Study suggests approximately 60% will have isolated
systolic hypertension (ISH) (Wilking et al., 1998).
The prevalence of hypertension in this study was 32.88%. This figure
was slightly higher compared to the report of the 2nd Malaysian National
Health and Morbidity Survey Conference (1997) where the prevalence of
hypertension was 24.1%. Majority of those surveyed were hypertensive subjects
who had mild hypertension (Stage 1).
Females have shown a slightly higher prevalence than males. This finding
was comparable to the National Health and Morbidity Survey report (1997).
Distribution of hypertension across age groups also showed a steady increase
with age, particularly after the 50s age group. Increase in blood pressure
level with ageing and its adverse impact has been reported in many studies
conducted in different parts of the globe (Trenkwalder et al.,
Hypertension was most prevalent in respondents aged 70 years and above
(75%) but it should be interpreted with caution as the number of cases
examined in this age group was low. The lowest prevalence of hypertension
was seen in the age groups of 50-59 years (15.79%). Currently, hypertension
is the major killer in males aged 45 years and above and females aged
65 years and above (Hennekens, 1998). There was no significant association
observed between hypertension and both age and gender. Findings in this
study suggested that SBP, but not DBP, was a strong, positive, independent
indicator of mortality risk in the elderly as 50% of total hypertensive
subjects had Isolated Systolic Hypertension (ISH) and should be stressed
much more than DBP in the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension in this
age group. It is particularly important to diagnose and treat ISH as early
as possible due to the high incidence of stroke, heart attack and heart
failure associated with this type of hypertension. The increase in mean
systolic pressure with age was significantly marked than the increase
in diastolic both males and females. Mean Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP)
was higher among females compared to males in all ages but the mean Diastolic
Blood Pressure (DBP) was higher among males. There was a significant difference
in mean SBP and mean DBP in various ethnics. Literacy and previous job
in UPM were found to be significantly associated with hypertension. No
significant association was observed in other variables. Detection and
control among retirees was less than satisfactory as shown in this survey.
Generally, there was a decreased in mean SBP in DBP in this study sample.
The prevalence of hypertension in this study may have been overestimated
or could also be a true picture of the hypertension burden among retirees.
Averaging across the measurements obtained on the two or more occasions
provides a more precise estimate of an individual`s blood pressure than
that obtained by use of either set of readings alone. Because of the extent
to which the selection of the sample and the measurement protocol influence
prevalence estimation, caution should be emphasized in comparing the findings
presented in the study. Hypertensive patients frequently demonstrate their
highest recorded levels in a clinical setting, with subsets of patients
who demonstrate hypertensives blood pressures only in the physician`s
office (Pickering, 1999). In pursuit of the minimum exercise prescription
to improve cardiovascular risk, research should focus on brisk walking
programs of greater total duration than 60 min per week. Hypertensive
subjects with multiple risk factors may be encouraged to exercise and
lead a healthy lifestyle. This will lead to attenuation of the relation
between physical activity and risk factors clustering. Lifestyle interventions
targeting multiple risk factors including blood pressure may be the most
effective prevention strategy.
Prevention program must stress the important of healthy lifestyle, good
nutrition, weight reduction in the obese and increased physical activity.
Concerted public health effort is required to increase awareness, detection
and to improve lifestyle modification of hypertension among retirees.
Coping with adversity in later life, in particular health-related problems
is priority for older persons, their families and caretakers alike. Education
may be important, not because it conveys information about early life
but because it is a guide to position in society in adult life. This,
in turn, is related to the determinants of differentials in health. This
study is primarily useful in the generation of hypothesis, but not in
hypothesis testing. The findings of this study can be used as a baseline
for future studies done in greater depth. It is highly recommend that
proper screening of blood pressure should be emphasized among the elderly
The authors would like to acknowledge the Medicine and Health Sciences
Faculty of UPM for supporting this study.