NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (May 17, 2021) — The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) for World Hypertension Day 2021.
World Hypertension Day is recognized annually on the 17th of May, and it reminds us that hypertension or high blood pressure is still prevalent in our communities. Millions of persons worldwide have been diagnosed with this chronic disease, which means that everyone has a relative, colleague or friend with hypertension.
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.
To help to address the knowledge gap in communities, the theme from the World Hypertension League for this year’s observance is “Measure your Blood Pressure, Control It, Live Longer.” It encourages regular screening through community programmes 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 health care provider.
The theme also emphasises the importance of control once diagnosed. This is achieved through compliance with your doctor’s recommendations, which may include taking medication daily and practising healthy habits. These habits include maintaining a plant-based diet with daily exercise and activities to reduce stress.
The Health Promotion Unit continues to do its part to increase awareness and educate the general population on hypertension.
This year, in collaboration with the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) Chronic Metabolic Disease project, the unit will be carrying out activities that include the use of its social media platform to share information on salt and salt reduction, “edutainment” sessions targeting high school students at Charlestown Secondary School and workplace health screening for small businesses in Nevis.
The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with its unfavourable impact on economies, livelihoods and overall health has hampered the prevention and control efforts across health sectors around the world. With future uncertainties, some persons are at risk for stress-related health issues. It is therefore even more crucial now to take advantage of the services available to screen and monitor your blood pressure. This simple act of checking can help to save lives.
In closing, I would like to encourage all of us to exercise regularly, avoid excess salt in foods, hydrate with water, check your blood pressure regularly and take time to meditate. These simple practices help to maintain calm spirits and normalise blood pressure.
Learn as much as you can on hypertension and how it can be prevented. Knowing the facts will help us to practise healthy habits so that we can live longer and more rewarding lives.