JIS News

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  • Consultant Cardiologist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Dr. Handel Emery, is expressing concern at the increasing prevalence of hypertension in Jamaica.
  • He was speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’ focusing on Heart Month, being observed in February under the theme ‘High Blood Pressure, the Untold Damage to Kidneys’.
  • Citing the results of the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III (2016-2017), a survey which is conducted every 10 years, he said that the increase is alarming.

Consultant Cardiologist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Dr. Handel Emery, is expressing concern at the increasing prevalence of hypertension in Jamaica.

He was speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’ focusing on Heart Month, being observed in February under the theme ‘High Blood Pressure, the Untold Damage to Kidneys’.

Citing the results of the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III (2016-2017), a survey which is conducted every 10 years, he said that the increase is alarming.

“On the basis of a number of surveys which have been done in the past…we’ve seen where the prevalence or the frequency of the condition in the population has increased from about 25 to 26 per cent to about 1 in 3 currently,” he added.

Dr. Emery, who is also a Consultant Cardiologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies and Associate Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, said this is of grave concern, because of the impact of hypertension on morbidity (illness) and mortality (death).

“We know that hypertension translates into patients dying. In fact, it is recognised as a major cause of mortality globally,” he said.

He pointed out, however, that it is treatable and that it is important for persons to get screened, so that treatment can begin as early as possible.

“We have very effective means of screening for hypertension. There are specific guidelines in terms of how frequently patients should be screened and, very importantly, in our context we have excellent options in terms of therapists,” he informed.

According to Dr. Emery, there are about seven classes of anti-hypertensive medications that are currently available, and almost all of them are available locally.

“Generics exist for most of them, which means that they are also relatively affordable for most of our patients, so in our setting and given the resources that we have at our disposal, there are very few legitimate reasons for patients to not know that they are hypertensive and not be adequately treated for hypertension,” he said.

He warned that treating hypertension is not just a matter of taking medication, but that there is a lifestyle component that is central to the therapy.

Current data suggest that the prevalence of hypertension in the Jamaican population is considered to be very high at 33 per cent, which means that about one in three Jamaicans is hypertensive.

Hypertension is the sustained elevation in blood pressure with an average blood pressure in excess of 140/90.

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