Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Guard against hypertension

Published:Tuesday | May 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is quite frequently referred to as the silent killer. Sadly, many of us will not realise that we are hypertensive until it is too late.

Each year, on May 17, the global community pauses to reflect and commemorate World Hypertension Day. It is estimated that about 70 million Americans adults have high blood pressure. According to The Jamaican Hypertension Prevalence Study, the island has a point prevalence of hypertension of 30.8 per cent in the 15-and-over age group. It is estimated that nearly a third of all Americans adults have prehypertension, which is a condition in which one's blood pressure numbers are higher than normal, but not in the high blood-pressure range.

The theme for WHD 2016 is 'Know Your Numbers'. We must all be reminded that it is only by getting ourselves checked that we will know our blood pressure.

Hypertension is a contributing factor in a significant number of deaths annually and we must become more proactive to change this narrative or else we, too, will become a statistic. Diseases such as heart attack, strokes, kidney diseases and erectile dysfunction are associated with high blood pressure.

The health care toll on a country can be overwhelming to treat all those who require medical and health care services. It is estimated that at least $46 billion is spent annually in the USA on health care costs. This cost is further broken down in terms of hospitalisation, lost productivity, visits to doctors, medications and health-care services.

There are some simple things we can all do to reduce our risks of becoming hypertensive. We need to engage in more physical activity, especially since many of us have a sedentary lifestyle. Invest in your health, get a skipping rope, or walk around your block where you live. Get moving! We also need to maintain a healthy body weight and watch the amount of salt we take into our bodies.

Let us all collaborate in raising the awareness regarding the risks associated with hypertension.