Pressure – Control It, Live Longer!
This year World Hypertension Day was commemorated under the theme: Measure your blood pressure, control it, live longer! In the Caribbean and worldwide, hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is the leading risk factor for illness and premature death from cardiovascular disease. The Caribbean region has the highest prevalence (23.1%) of high blood pressure in the region of the Americas, with the highest prevalence in Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
According to the American Heart Association: “Hypertension or high blood pressure is when your blood pressure, the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high.”
It is often called the silent killer as most people have no symptoms until after damage has been done to organs like your heart, blood vessels and kidney.
Sometimes the first time persons are diagnosed with hypertension is after they are admitted to hospital for a stroke. Persons with hypertension are also at higher risk for severe illness and death due to COVID-19 infection.
“This is why everyone should know their blood pressure number. The only way to know this is to get your blood pressure measured at least twice a year. For those persons with high blood pressure they should take control by getting routine medical checks, taking their medication as prescribed along with engaging in healthy lifestyles and good mental health practices,” remarked Dr Tamu Davidson, Head of Chronic Disease and Injury at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
You can reduce your risk for high blood pressure by not smoking, reducing the intake of alcohol, becoming more physically active, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, decreasing consumption of foods high in sugar, salt and fats, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing stress.
Even if you have hypertension you will need to engage in these healthy lifestyle practices to get your blood pressure under control along with any medication prescribed by your doctor.
CARPHA calls on Caribbean governments, civil society groups, regional organisations, and communities to establish, enforce and protect policies to prevent hypertension, such as, smoke-free places, reduction of air pollution, front-of-package labels on our foods, healthy workplaces, active cities and good mental wellness.
CARPHA Member States should promote access to timely high-quality screening, diagnosis and treatment of persons with hypertension whilst protecting the population from COVID-19 infection.
Let us take control, inform, educate, know the facts about high blood pressure, know your blood pressure and take action towards a healthier you. There is no time like now, “Power through Collective Action.”