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High Blood Pressure – silent killer in SVG

High Blood Pressure – silent killer in SVG

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More than half of the deaths that occur in St Vincent and the Grenadines on a yearly basis could have been prevented.{{more}}

So says Luis deShong, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, as high blood pressure, its causes, and effects came under scrutiny yesterday, during a symposium here to commemorate World Health Day.

The symposium, which took place at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown, was organised by deShong’s ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), under the theme “Control Your Blood Pressure, Cut Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke.”

April 7 was World Health Day.

DeShong, speaking to the participants, pointed out non-communicable diseases, which include cancers, diabetes and diseases of the circulatory system, contribute to between 60 and 70 per cent of all deaths annually, with the diseases of the circulatory system being the leading cause, due to hypertension, heart disease and cerebrovascular diseases.

“High blood pressure is the most common chronic medical problem which prompts visits to health clinics, yet it is estimated that very few persons are actually able to have their blood pressure controlled,” deShong stated.

“Thus, a growing number of persons worldwide are at increased risk for cardiovascular events… one in three adults worldwide have high blood pressure, and this is a medical condition that can result in tragedy, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

“I assure that the available research states that the consequences can be prevented, and we can do so by maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, reducing salt intake, reducing stress, and drinking alcohol in moderation.”

He added that controlling high blood pressure with medications is unquestionably one of the more cost-effective strategies for dealing with the copndition, and used the opportunity to urge individuals to ‘know their number’, meaning to get their blood pressure checked, and take the necessary steps to prevent and treat the disease where possible.

Among other disadvantages, the permanent secretary said that the medical and human cost effects of blood pressure and other non-communicable diseases take a direct and indirect toll on families and economies.

DeShong pointed out that one of the main goals of the ministry, through its health promotion and community health services units, is that of improving the health of all citizens by playing a pivotal role in enabling individuals to increase control over their health.

“In this regard, the programmes which they both mount annually are not only focused on changing behavioural risk factors, but they also include a broad range of social and environmental interventions. The programmes are designed to promote quality of life, healthy development, healthy behaviours across the life cycle and also create social and physical environments that promote good health.”

The symposium was also addressed by Dr Roger Duncan, medical officer of health; Dr. Trevor Ferguson, lecturer in clinical epidemiology at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; Andrea Robin, chief nutritionist and responsible adult obesity care for the prevention and control of hypertension; Patsy Wyllie, chief health educator, and former West Indies wicketkeeper and health enthusiast Michael Findlay. (JJ)

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