Background: Previous studies have documented a high burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in Jamaica and suggest that mortality from CVD may be increasing. This paper provides an update on the burden of CVD risk factors in Jamaica using data from the most recent national health survey and evaluates the impact of obesity and physical activity on other CVD risk factors.
Methods: The Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2007–2008 (JHLS–2) recruited a nationally representative sample of 2848 Jamaicans, 15–74 years old between November 2007 and March 2008. An interviewer administered questionnaire was used to obtain data on demographic characteristics, medical history and health behaviour. Blood pressure and anthropometric measurements were made using standardized protocols and capillary blood samples were obtained to measure fasting glucose and total cholesterol. Prevalence estimates for the various CVD risk factors were obtained within and across sex and other demographic categories. Data were weighted for the complex survey design, nonresponse to questionnaire items or failure to complete some segments of the evaluation.
Results: Prevalence estimates for traditional CVD risk factors were: hypertension, 25%; diabetes, 8%; hypercholesterolaemia, 12%; obesity, 25%; smoking 15%. In addition, 35% of Jamaicans had prehypertension, 3% had impaired fasting glucose and 27% were overweight. A higher proportion of women had diabetes, obesity and hypercholesterolaemia while the prevalence of prehypertension and cigarette smoking was higher in men. Approximately 50% of persons with hypertension, 25% of persons with diabetes and 86% of persons with hypercholesterolaemia were unaware of their risk status. In multivariate analysis, obesity was associated with increased odds of hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolaemia while physical inactivity was associated with higher odds of diabetes.
Conclusion: The burden of CVD risk factors in Jamaica remains very high and warrants interventions to reduce CVD risk.