INTRODUCTION: Nowadays there are more than 5 millions of immigrants (8.3% of general adult population) in Italy.
AIM: To evaluate the potential impact of immigration and the possession of a permanent residence on blood pressure (BP) levels and control in a low income population of immigrants from different countries.
METHODS: We evaluated clinical characteristics and social status of adult individuals with known diagnosis of hypertension afferent to the Poliambulatorio della Caritas Diocesana in Rome, Italy, between 2010-2016. Subjects were stratified according to their macro-areas of origin (Europe, Asia, Africa, South-America), housing (with or without house), and immigration status (presence or absence of residence permit). BP levels were measured in three consecutive visits according to recommendations from current European Guidelines.
RESULTS: From an overall population sample of 9827 adult individuals, we initially identified 994 patients with a diagnosis of hypertension (10.1%), among whom 536 (5.4%) had valid BP data. Among these, 50.6% came from Europe, 21.6% from Africa, 24.1% from Asia, and 3.7% from South-America. They were predominantly male (54.7%), middle aged (42.8 ± 12.1 years at arrival and 51.6 ± 10.6 years at first visit) and untreated (72.8%) individuals with baseline systolic/diastolic BP levels of 156.9 ± 22.2/97.3 ± 12.4 mmHg). BP levels remained higher in homeless than in housed people at both visit 2 (150.0 ± 21.8/92.6 ± 12.9 mmHg vs. 142.9 ± 19.3/89.9 ± 11.6 mmHg; P < 0.001) and visit 3 (147.9 ± 22.2/91.7 ± 12.5 mmHg vs. 141.8 ± 19.4/89.2 ± 12.0 mmHg; P = 0.013). We also observed reductions of both systolic and diastolic BP levels compared to baseline values in immigrants stratified according to residence permit, although without relevant differences among groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Beyond conventional risk factors, socio-economic issues, including lack of residence permit or habitation, may affect BP levels and control in frail populations of immigrants, which have been marginally considered before.