Hypertension (htn) is an important public health challenge at Auchi, Nigeria. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological survey was to determine hypertensive patients’ knowledge, perceptions, attitudes and life-style practices so as to optimize their health and treatment needs. We examined a cohort of 108 randomly selected hypertensive by means of a self-structured questionnaire and a detailed interview. Analysis was by statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) and chi-square of the GraphPad Prism software was used for significance tests at 0.05 level. More males 60 (55.6%) than females 48 (44.4%) were assessed. Their age range was 35 – 80 years (mean = 59.05 ± 9.06 years), the modal age group was 56 – 60 years (24.1%). Sixty-six respondents (61%) knew htn to be high blood pressure (BP), 22 (20%) thought it meant excessive thinking and worrying while 57 (53%) claimed it was hereditary. Forty-three (40%) felt it was caused by malevolent spirits, 32 (30%) believed it was caused by bad food or poisoning. A few (18%) knew some risk factors. Symptoms attributed to htn were headache, restlessness, palpitation, excessive pulsation of the superficial temporal artery and “internal heat”, but 80 (74%) attested to its correct diagnosis by BP measurement. Although 98 (90.7%) felt the disease indicated serious morbidity, only 36 (33.3%) were adherent with treatment and fewer practiced life-style modification. Thirty-two (30%) knew at least one antihypertensive drug they use. Psychosocial factors like depression and anxiety, fear of addiction and intolerable drug adverse effects impacted negatively on patients’ attitude to treatment. We conclude that patients’ knowledge of htn in Auchi is low and their attitudes to treatment negative. Patient education, motivation and public enlightenment are imperative.
Key words: Hypertension-related knowledge, perception, attitudes, life-style practices, hypertensive Nigerian patients.
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