Nevis’ Junior Minister of Health delivers address to mark World Hypertension Day

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (May 17, 2019) – The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health on Nevis on the occasion of World Hypertension Day observed on May 17, 2019.

Friday 17th May is recognised as World Hypertension Day.

Hypertension commonly known as High Blood Pressure, is a condition where the blood pressure in blood vessels that transport blood throughout the body is consistently high.

This disease, if not controlled, is a major risk factor for strokes, heart and kidney diseases, all leading causes of illness and death worldwide.

Hypertension is a chronic non-communicable disease and is commonly known as the ‘Silent Killer’, because the person with high blood pressure may not have signs or symptoms and can feel normal with uncontrolled blood pressure which can lead to complications and even death.

The importance of controlling blood pressure therefore cannot be over-emphasized.

On World Hypertension Day, public health services aim to raise awareness and promote prevention, detection, and control of high blood pressure.

The theme: “Know your numbers” encourages the public to know what their blood pressure measurements are.

The blood pressure measurement consists of two sets of numbers: the upper systolic number and the lower diastolic number. The normal blood pressure of an adult is a measurement reading less than 120 over less than 80 mm of mercury.

According to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), 20 to 40 percent of the adult population or 250 million people in the region are affected by hypertension.

Of this number, 1.6 million die from cardiovascular disease and a half a million of these people are under the age of 70. These deaths are considered preventable and premature deaths.

St. Kitts and Nevis, similar to the rest of the region, has documented uncontrolled high blood pressure and its complications as a major cause of sickness and death.

Cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes are also leading causes of death which can result from poorly controlled blood pressure.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, in 2017 there were 522 persons with high blood pressure registered in the public health centres on Nevis. Of these 148 were males and 344 were females.

The number of persons with high blood pressure can be higher as some are not aware of their numbers because they have not seen a doctor for diagnosis.

It is therefore incumbent on us to emphasize the importance of having regular blood pressure checks to know our numbers, and make the necessary interventions to control it.

In celebration of World Hypertension Day, the Ministry of Health through the Health Promotion Unit, and in collaboration with the International Corporation Development Fund Chronic Kidney Disease Project, carried out health screening and awareness activities for employees at selected workplaces in Nevis.

This activity would give persons an opportunity to know their results for certain tests including blood pressure.

The unit also developed posters which will be placed in different locations around the island to increase awareness about high blood pressure.

Additionally, information on this disease, its prevention and control are available at the unit for the general public.

Other campaigns geared at the prevention and control of High Blood Pressure endorsed by the Ministry of Health include, ‘Pinch and not pour’ – a salt reduction campaign, the National Weight Loss campaign, and the Nevis Moves Initiative.

The Ministry of Health will continue to work towards achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 4 which calls for action to reduce the premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing by 2030.

Blood pressure checks are available free of cost at all the health centres across the island and services for prevention and control of the disease are also available.

Monthly health education sessions are also offered and give clients the opportunity to discuss concerns about hypertension and other health topics with health professionals.

Everyone is invited to take advantage of these services.

It is important, therefore,  that we strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which is paramount to the prevention and control of high blood pressure.

The following actions have been proven to be effective in maintaining a normal blood pressure:

– reduce salt intake

– avoid processed foods

– exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week

– maintain a healthy weight

– eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and natural foods

– do not smoke

– avoid stress; and

– follow medical advice

I encourage you to Know your Numbers!

Please make the effort to visit your health care provider for regular checks, and let us all work together to build a healthy nation.

Thank you!

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