J Biosoc Sci 2019 05 21;51(3):313-334. Epub 2018 May 21.
†Department of Internal Medicine and Therapeutics,School of Medical Sciences,College of Health and Allied Sciences,University of Cape Coast,Ghana.
Hypertension is a significant contributor to the global burden of cardiovascular and related target organ diseases such as heart failure, coronary heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, and their associated premature morbidity, mortality and disability. Marital status is an important social characteristic known to predict a range of health outcomes including cardiovascular disease. However, little is known about its impact on hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa. This study explored the relationship between marital status and hypertension among women and men in Ghana. Drawing on data from the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS), descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression models were used to analyse the link between marital status and hypertension. About 13% of women aged 15-49 and 15% of men aged 15-59 were found to be hypertensive. After controlling for lifestyle and socio-demographic covariates, the logistic regression models showed significantly higher odds of hypertension for married (OR=2.14, 95% CI=1.30-3.53), cohabiting (OR=1.94, 95% CI=1.16-3.23) and previously married (OR=2.23, 95% CI=1.29-3.84) women. In contrast, no significant association was found between any of the marital status cohorts and hypertension for men. Other significant predictors of hypertension were age, body mass index and wealth status. The results demonstrate that marital status is an independent risk factor for hypertension in Ghana for women, rather than men. This could have immediate and far-reaching consequences for cardiovascular health policy in Ghana. In particular, the findings could lead to better targeted public health interventions, including more effective risk factor assessment and patient education in clinical settings, which could lead to more effective patient management and improved cardiovascular outcomes.