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Hypertension: not a disease to take lightly

Hypertension: not a disease to take lightly

Hypertension is the number one risk factor for illness and premature death from cardiovascular disease, and one of the most common non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean region.

“This disease may go undetected, so getting checked every year is important, so that you are not at risk for complications. In the Caribbean, most people with ‘pressure’ already know it, so equally important is for someone diagnosed to take it seriously and stay on their preventive treatment and lifestyle plan”, remarked Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in observance of World Hypertension Day 2018.

Usually symptomless, unrecognised and untreated, hypertension can cause serious health problems such as heart failure, stroke and kidney damage.  Although the prevalence of hypertension usually rises with age, the disease is preventable and treatable.

The factors which contribute to hypertension are like those of the other major chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity and diabetes. These factors include unhealthy diet, high salt intake, obesity, inadequate physical activity and excessive use of alcohol.

“Hypertension, if not addressed in a timely fashion, can have significant economic and social impact.  Combined and coordinated efforts at local, national, regional, and global levels are needed to increase awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure and address the risk factors associated with this silent killer,” stated Dr. Hospedales.  He stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle at all ages. This includes: 

- the reduction of salt intake,
- a diet rich in fruits and vegetables,
- exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight.


It is important to note that the higher your blood pressure, the more work your heart does.   Check your blood pressure numbers regularly to be assured of good health.  If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, it’s important to stay on the treatment prescribed by your doctor or health provider, especially if you have other risks like diabetes, high cholesterol, or are a smoker.

"Know your numbers" is the theme for World Hypertension Day 2018.  Its purpose is to raise awareness worldwide about the importance of knowing your blood pressure measurement.

World Hypertension Day is observed every May 17th to raise awareness and promote hypertension detection and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer, a modern epidemic.  

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