The relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and knowledge of cardiovascular disease in African men in the North-West Province
BACKGROUND Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major health problem worldwide. In South Africa, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is often underestimated. The prevalence of CVD is very high, especially in urban areas, where two thirds of Africans present with multiple risk factors for CVD. The surge in CVD seems largely caused by modifiable risk factors. Although several studies have been conducted on the high prevalence and burden of CVD, there is limited research investigating possible relationships between CV risk factors and CVD knowledge. In order to address the burden of CVD as a public health issue, it is necessary to determine the level of CVD knowledge to bridge the possible knowledge gap in the control and primary prevention of CVD. It is therefore important to get a clear understanding of the relationship between CV risk factors and knowledge of CVD to contribute to the development and implementation of primary prevention programmes to reduce the prevalence of CVD. The findings from the study may be useful in designing community based health promotion programmes to prevent and control CVD within primary health care settings. A clear and comprehensive understanding of how risk factors contribute to the development of the CVD may enable individuals to identify their risk factors, but also to take action to reduce their risk for developing CVD. AIM This study aimed to determine the relationship between CV risk factors and knowledge of CVD in a group of African men. METHODOLOGY This study is quantitative in nature and followed a descriptive correlational design to describe the relationship between CV risk factors and knowledge of CVD. The study included 118 African men employed at the Vaalharts Water Scheme, North-West Province, South Africa. For the purpose of the study, data was collected by means of questionnaires and individual health screening. Participants completed a general health questionnaire, as well as a Heart Disease Knowledge Questionnaire. Individual health screening included anthropometric measurements (height, weight, waist circumference and body mass index), blood pressure (BP), rapid testing of blood glucose and cholesterol. By using Pearson correlations we determined whether CVD knowledge scores relate to individual CV risk factors. RESULTS The mean CV knowledge score was 75%, with an acceptable Cronbach’s alpha of 0.64 (CA=0.64). One third of the group displayed moderate to high CV risk profiles. Participants had a mean BP of 146/92 mmHg, which falls in the hypertensive range of the European guidelines. Their fasting blood glucose levels of 5.8 ± 2.0mmol/L were higher than the normal cut-off of 5.6mmol/L. Their mean body mass index was 25.9 ± 5.9 kg/m2. Overall, we observed a lack of association between CV risk factors and CVD knowledge. Only one borderline significant association existed between triglycerides and CVD knowledge (r=0.167; p=0.071). CONCLUSIONS Despite African men having increased CV risk and a relatively good knowledge of CVD risk factors, there seems to be a disconnect between their CV risk and CVD knowledge. Furthermore, in this group of African men, this knowledge does not appear to translate to changes in their own perceived severity of risk factors. Our results suggest that a good CVD knowledge does not appear to influence changes in CV risk factor levels.
- Health Sciences