BACKGROUND: Reliable information about the prevalence of
hypertension, which is a major contributor to cardiovascular
disease in general and to coronary heart disease in particular, in
different geographical regions is essential for its prevention and
optimal control. In the mining industry, which comprises mainly
urbanised black African men, the prevalence, impact, treatment
and control of hypertension remains unexplored.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, descriptive 1-year
hypertension prevalence study in Gauteng Harmony Mine
Operations in South Africa. Patient profiles and blood pressure
(BP) measurements were retrieved from the company electronic
data systems. Follow-up entries made at all the different health
facilities that serve this population were examined. Continuous
variables were summarised using means or medians with standard
deviations. Categorical deviations, including ethnicity, were
summarised using percentages and/or frequencies.
RESULTS: Of the 4 297 subjects (100% of the mining population in
the study period), 4 286 (99%) were black Africans; 90% were men;
mean age was 44.62 years; and 39.5% (N=1 696) had hypertension,
for which 42% (N=719) received pharmacological treatment, of
which 31% (13% of the total hypertensive population) achieved an
adequate BP control target of <140/90 mmHg. Pharmacological
treatment included diuretics (38.5%), angiotensin-converting
enzyme inhibitors (30.16%), calcium channel blockers (26%),
beta-blockers (4.47%), angiotensin-receptor blockers (0.17%) and
centrally acting agents (0.07%), usually taken in combination.
CONCLUSION: We confirmed that hypertension is an important
health challenge for the mining industry in South Africa. Detection,
treatment and adequate control of hypertension should receive high
priority from the mining authorities.