The prevalence of hypertension in adults in South Africa (SA) is 35%. Hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) in sub-Saharan Africa. However, 49% of people are unaware of their blood pressure status. Screening for hypertension prior to surgery provides a unique opportunity to diagnose and treat affected individuals. Furthermore, assessing overall CV risk identifies patients at highest risk for complications, and improves the utilisation of scarce resources.
To evaluate the CV risk profile of hypertensive patients in the adult population of the Western Cape Province presenting for elective non-cardiac, non-obstetric surgery.
This report documents the CV risk profile of patients recruited to the HASS-2 study (Hypertension and Surgery Study 2), which was undertaken in seven Western Cape hospitals. Patients were screened for hypertension and pharmacological treatment was initiated or adjusted in patients with stages 1 and 2 disease. Stage 3 patients were referred to a physician. In the present substudy, patients with stages 1 and 2 hypertension were assessed for associated CV risk factors, the presence of target organ damage, and documented CV or kidney disease; they received an overall risk stratification according to the 2018 European Society of Cardiology and the European Society of Hypertension Guidelines.
Sixty-one patients with stage 1 and 12 with stage 2 hypertension were analysed. Established CV disease was present in 13.7% of the study population, and CKD (eGFR <60 mL/min) in 10.8%. Seventy-one percent of the study group had a raised body mass index, and 55.9% underlying metabolic syndrome. Prediabetes and diabetes were present in 16.1% and 14.5%, respectively. According to the 2018 European guidelines, 34.7% were at moderate, 33.3% at high and 16.7% at very high risk for a CV event in the following 10 years.
The perioperative period is a critical time during which surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists can influence patients’ CV risk of adverse events. This involves appropriate screening, education and treatment. In this study population, nearly 9 out of 10 elective surgical patients with stage 1 or 2 hypertension had CV risk factors placing them at moderate to very high risk. The simultaneous assessment of these additional CV risk parameters, in addition to diagnosis and management of hypertension, may further decrease the health and financial burden in resource-limited facilities in SA, and improve CV outcomes.