Is the cardiovascular health of South Africans today comparable with African Americans 45 years ago?

Yolandi Breet, Daniel T. Lackland, Bruce Ovbiagele, Mayowa O. Owolabi, Gbenga Ogedegbe, Iolanthè M. Kruger, Aletta E. Schutte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives:Hypertension occurs frequently among black populations around the world. In the United States (US) health system, interventions since the 1960s resulted in improvements in hypertension awareness, management and control among African Americans. This is in stark contrast to current health systems in African countries. To objectively assess the current situation in South Africa, we compared the cardiovascular health status of African Americans from 1960 to 1980 to black South Africans from recent years, as there is potential to implement best practices from the US. We also reviewed the recent cardiovascular health changes of a South African population over 10 years.Methods:Men and women were included from three studies performed in the United States (Evans County Heart Study; Charleston Heart Study; NHANES I and II) and one in South Africa (PURE, North West Province). We compared blood pressure (BP), BMI, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking status.Results:Age-adjusted SBP and DBP of South African men were lower than US studies conducted from 1960 to 1971 (Evans County; Charleston; NHANES I; all P < 0.001) but similar to NHANES II (P = 0.987) conducted in 1976. South African women had lower SBP than all four of the US studies (all P < 0.001); their DBP was lower than Evans County and Charleston studies, but similar to NHANES I and II. Reviewing South African data, BMI increased steeply over 10 years in women (P < 0.001) but not men (P = 0.451).Conclusion:Blood pressure of South Africans is lower than African Americans from the 1960s, but comparable for 1970s to 1980s. With obesity of South African women rising sharply, escalating figures for hypertension and diabetes are anticipated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1606-1614
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Africa
  • African-American
  • black
  • blood pressure
  • ethnicity
  • hypertension
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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