GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – 17th of May marks World Hypertension Day, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), along with the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is urging people to get their blood pressure checked regularly to prevent heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and other serious health problems.
The international theme is: “Know Your Numbers,” with the goal of increasing high blood pressure awareness in all populations around the world.
Hypertension, which is the leading risk factor for illness and premature death from cardiovascular disease, affects some 250 million people in the Americas, and in most countries, rates of blood pressure control are unacceptably low.
People with hypertension are considered to have their condition under control if their blood pressure readings are below 140/90 mmHG all day, 365 days a year.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, an estimated 80% of people with hypertension do not have good control. According to the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, in Argentina, Brazil and Chile collectively, only 57% of people with hypertension are aware they have the condition, only 53% of those who are aware are under treatment, and only 30% of those under treatment have their hypertension controlled. Among all people with hypertension (including those who are unaware of their condition), the percent controlled is only 19%.
Hypertension is a silent killer because in its early stages it rarely causes symptoms, and many people go undiagnosed. Diagnosing and treating it on time can reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke and kidney failure.
All adults should know their blood pressure levels. Healthy lifestyles can prevent hypertension, and for people who need medication, it can improve control.
An estimated 80 per cent of premature heart attacks and stroke can be prevented by reducing the leading risk factors for these conditions: unhealthy diet, tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity.
Overweight and obesity and excess salt consumption – the single most important risk factor for hypertension – also increase one’s risk.
Commit yourself to getting regular blood pressure checks; eat more fruits and vegetables and use less salt; be physically active; avoid alcohol and tobacco use; and take your blood pressure medication every day, if it has been prescribed.