by Clive Bacchus
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Caribbean has the highest prevalence of Hypertension or raised blood pressure – a leading risk factor for heart disease, worldwide, and health officials are pushing for a “whole of society approach” to reduce the disease by 25 percent in 2025.
On Monday, designated World Hypertension Day-themed “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control it, Live Longer “, Junior Minister of Health Hazel Brandy Williams notes that millions have been diagnosed with the disease.
“Data shows that there is still a significant number of persons who are unaware that they are at risk for high blood pressure and do not seek care or take advantage of screening opportunities.
Efforts to increase awareness and educate our communities on hypertension and its associated risk factors are necessary to increase knowledge. We need to curb the negative impacts of heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and even premature death related to hypertension.”
Ms. Brandy Willaims said actions encouraged, included regular screening through community programs and routine clinic visits for accurate measurements, to identify any at-risk persons and for early diagnosis.
“Although automated devices are also available for use at home, these measurements should be verified by your healthcare provider.
The theme also emphasizes the importance of control once diagnosed. This is achieved through compliance with your doctor’s recommendations, which may include taking medication daily and practicing healthy habits. These habits include maintaining a plant-based diet with daily exercise and activities to reduce stress.”
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is reporting that the “non-Latin Caribbean” has the highest mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease, accounting for 418 per 100,000 population.
CARPHA encourages regional governments to champion several measures to reduce the prevalence of hypertension by:
· developing public education campaigns to improve public knowledge, attitude, and practice towards hypertension prevention and control
· establishing community screening programmes for the early detection of high blood pressure
· ensuring capacity building of the health care workforce to accurately measure blood pressure, prevent and treat hypertension
· promoting and supporting policies to reduce unhealthy food environment, tobacco use, alcohol use, air pollution, and stress management