Health minister emphasises importance of hypertension awareness Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a strong and reliable indicator that one’s health is at risk and needs to be urgently addressed, says Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton.

In his message marking World Hypertension Day, which was observed globally on Friday, May 17, Dr Tufton underscored the importance of persons taking high blood pressure seriously.

He pointed out that “symptoms of hypertension often manifest in advanced stages of cardiovascular disease, elevating the risk of sudden acute events such as heart attacks or strokes.”

The Minister expressed concern that hypertension, though preventable and treatable, remains a significant health concern affecting more than one in three adults globally.

He added that in Jamaica, the statistics are no less concerning, with one in three Jamaicans living with high blood pressure, as reported in the 2016/2017 Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey.

“Alarmingly, four out of every 10 Jamaicans with hypertension are unaware of their condition, emphasising the critical need for awareness and proactive health management,” Dr. Tufton said.

The Minister noted that high blood pressure is a leading contributor to premature death from cardiovascular diseases, with heart disease and stroke topping the list of global causes of mortality.

“Moreover, hypertension escalates the risk of kidney failure, blindness and other debilitating conditions, often coexisting with obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol [and] compounding health risks,” he warned.

It is for these reasons, Dr. Tufton contends, that managing blood pressure is an extremely important part of a person’s wellness regime.

“Our aim is to increase awareness of the significance of blood pressure monitoring to underscore the seriousness of hypertension and to empower individuals to take control of their health,” he maintained.

Consequently, Dr. Tufton said the Health Ministry’s #KnowYourNumbers campaign is a clarion call to action, and urges everyone to regularly monitor their blood pressure and be cognisant of their readings so as to take timely measures.

“The first crucial step for both prevention and management is knowing your numbers, that is, your blood pressure levels in terms of prevention. The advice is simple, reduce salt intake, maintain physical activity, prioritise fruits and vegetables over highly processed foods, limit sugary beverages, refrain from tobacco, use moderate alcohol consumption or abstain altogether” he outlined.

Dr. Tufton argued that while adopting these lifestyle modifications is sufficient to manage blood pressure effectively for many individuals, medication becomes necessary for others.

He gave the assurance that hypertension medications are safe, affordable, and effective, while reminding the public that the National Health Fund (NHF) offers subsidies on these pharmaceuticals.

The Minister urged persons to “prioritise your health, know your blood pressure numbers, adopt a proactive approach to lifestyle changes, and adhere to recommended medication and self-care practices.”

“Your health lies in your hands. By knowing your numbers, you equip yourself to lead a longer, healthier life” Dr. Tufton maintained.

World Hypertension Day, which is observed annually on May 17 to raise awareness and promote the prevention, detection and control of hypertension, was observed this year under the theme: ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately; Control it. Live Longer’.