NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (April 09, 2013) — Medical Officer of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Dr. Judy Nisbett, issued an urgent call to persons on Nevis to know their blood pressure readings, take steps to prevent high blood pressure and control it if you are affected by it.
She was at the time delivering a message on behalf of the Ministry of Health on Nevis Television Channel 8 on April 8th, 2013, to mark Nevis’ annual observance of World Health Day, celebrated on April 7. This year’s theme was “Hypertension” more commonly known as High Blood pressure (HBP), an illness which had become a global health crisis and Nevis was not immune to the high incidence of HBP.
“In Nevis Hypertension was the leading cause of hospitalisation in 2011 and diseases of the circulatory system, caused primarily by Hypertension were leading causes of death in that same year. This has been a trend for a number of years.
“High Blood Pressure is often termed the silent killer with most persons having no sign or symptoms. Many with HBP are not aware that they have the disease, thus the importance of regular blood pressure checks,” she said.
Dr. Nisbett said the disease could be averted if persons took stock of their behaviour and lifestyle related factors which, if not done, had a tendency to put them at high risk of developing the illness.
She pointed to the high intake of salt, being overweight, lack of physical exercise and the overindulgence of alcohol and tobacco consumption. Notwithstanding she said the illness could be prevented and pointed to a number of measures that could be taken to do so.
“High Blood Pressure can be prevented and controlled by adopting healthy lifestyle modifications. Actions that you can take include: eating a healthy diet consisting of locally grown fruits, vegetables and other produce, whole grains, lean cuts of meat, high fibre and low fat,” she said.
Regarding the usage of salt, Dr. Nisbett urged persons to limit their use added to food.
“The total daily intake of salt should be no more than 5grams or one teaspoon. Cook using our local herbs to flavour your food instead of salt and seasoned salt. Avoid processed foods since many are high in salt and read labels to see that salt of sodium content,” she urged.
However, for those who had HBP, Dr. Nisbett said lifestyle changes may not be enough to treat the disease and prescription medicines were required to control the illness.
“It is important that those medicines are taken regularly,” she said and also urged them to prevent and manage other medical conditions like Diabetes.
“About 60 percent of persons who have Diabetes also have Hypertension. Having both conditions doubles the risk of the cardiovascular disease. It is therefore important for Diabetics to keep their blood pressure less than 130/80,” she informed.
Dr. Nisbett stated, that the Ministry of Health would continue its prevention and treatment efforts of Hypertension and cardiovascular risk factors, to advance the goal of a 25 percent reduction in premature deaths from Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by 2025. The move was in keeping with the 2011 United Nations high level meeting held on NCDs.
“The Ministry is committed to decreasing the burden of disease caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure but you too must play your part,” she told the Nevis public.