Hypertension in Vietnam : from community-based studies to a national targeted programme

Abstract: Background: In the context of transitional Vietnam, hypertension has been shown to be one of the ten leading causes of morbidity and mortality in hospitals. However, population-based data on hypertension are to a large extent lacking. This thesis aims to characterise the current epidemiology of hypertension in the adult Vietnamese population and provide preliminary evidence for developing effective community-based hypertension management programmes nationwide. Methods: The study was conducted during 2002-2010. It includes two national surveys of the adult population aged 25 years and older, randomly selected in eight provinces in different regions of Vietnam, as well as a community-based programme on hypertension management in two communes of Bavi district. The survey on hypertension and associated risk factors, which included 9,832 adults, applied the WHO STEP-wise approach. The survey on hypertension-related knowledge and health seeking behaviour included 31,720 adults, using a structured questionnaire. For the community-based study, three-year follow-up data on 860 hypertensives was used to assess the effectiveness of the hypertension control model. Main findings: Hypertension prevalence was high (overall 25.1%, 28.3% in men and 23.1% in women). The proportions of hypertensives aware, treated and controlled were unacceptably low (48.4%, 29.6% and 10.7% respectively). Most Vietnamese adults (82.4%) had good knowledge about high blood pressure. People received their information on hypertension from mass media (newspapers, radio, and especially television). Most people would choose a commune health station (75%) if seeking health care for hypertension. The programme on hypertension control was able to run independently at the commune health station. Severity of hypertension and effectiveness of treatment were the main factors influencing people’s adherence to the programme. The hypertension control programme successfully reduced blood pressure (systolic blood pressure: -2.2 mmHg in men and -7.8 mmHg in women; diastolic blood pressure: -4.3 mmHg in men and -6.8 mmHg in women), the estimated CVD 10-year risk (-2.5% in women), and increased the proportions of treatment (22% in men and 13.6% in women) and control (11% in men and 17.3% in women) among hypertensive people. Suggestions for hypertension control: (1) Address the general population by developing community interventions, particularly salt reduction; (2) Provide interventions to individuals at high risk of a CVD event, including multi-drug treatment within patient-centred primary health care. (3) Set up a hypertension care network based in the existing health care system; (4) Improve and strengthen capacity and skills of medical staff in cardiac care, particularly staff at primary care level.