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Keywords:

  • biological anthropology;
  • blood pressure;
  • urban-rural migrants;
  • Africa

Abstract

This article examines social and environmental influences on the development of hypertension in a sample of 568 adults (290 men; 278 women) aged 20 years and older from Dakar, Senegal. We test the hypothesis that more recent immigrants to the city of Dakar will have lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension than those who have lived there longer. Cross-sectional sociodemographic, anthropometric and blood pressure data were collected during 2009. The overall prevalence of hypertension was 27.1% (95% CI: 25.2–29.0). Hypertension rates were not significantly associated with place of birth; however, length of residence in Dakar was a significant predictor, with those living in the city for less than 10 years having reduced risks of developing hypertension (OR = 0.25; P = 0.003). Other important correlates of blood pressure and hypertension risk in this sample were age and body mass index. These findings suggest that length of exposure to the urban environment—and associated changes in lifestyle—are linked to hypertension. Public health officials should thus pay particular attention to this phenomenon, and future anthropological research should include measures of both environmental and biological characteristics to study hypertension in Senegal. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:250–258, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.