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HEART Foundation Marks 50 Years of Service to Jamaica

By: , January 31, 2021

The Key Point:

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is celebrating 50 years of promoting heart health in Jamaica in 2021. Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, the entity’s Executive Director, Deborah Chen, said that the milestone comes at a time when the country is facing a pandemic.
HEART Foundation Marks 50 Years of Service to Jamaica
Photo: Donald De La Haye
Executive Director of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), Deborah Chen, addresses a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (January 29), where she highlights the impact of hypertension on the kidneys. The HFJ is observing Heart Month in February under the theme 'High Blood Pressure and the Untold Damage to Kidneys'.

The Facts

  • “This is not at all what we had in mind a few years ago when we contemplated our 50th celebration, but as it turns out, the work of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica has never been more important,” she noted. Mrs. Chen, in outlining the evolution of the HFJ over the last five decades said that in the initial years, focus was placed on conducting screenings for rheumatic heart disease among school children.
  • “Many persons, the older generation, will remember the Mend-a-Heart programme and many people tell us now about the little badges that they would get at their schools when we used to visit,” she said. She noted that in the later years “we transitioned into screening for coronary heart disease, which had to do with a change in lifestyle and a changing presentation of heart disease in terms of our health system”.

The Full Story

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is celebrating 50 years of promoting heart health in Jamaica in 2021.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, the entity’s Executive Director, Deborah Chen, said that the milestone comes at a time when the country is facing a pandemic.

“This is not at all what we had in mind a few years ago when we contemplated our 50th celebration, but as it turns out, the work of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica has never been more important,” she noted. Mrs. Chen, in outlining the evolution of the HFJ over the last five decades said that in the initial years, focus was placed on conducting screenings for rheumatic heart disease among school children.

“Many persons, the older generation, will remember the Mend-a-Heart programme and many people tell us now about the little badges that they would get at their schools when we used to visit,” she said. She noted that in the later years “we transitioned into screening for coronary heart disease, which had to do with a change in lifestyle and a changing presentation of heart disease in terms of our health system”.

The HFJ also carries out health checks for risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.

Mrs. Chen noted that tobacco use, excessive alcohol intake and physical inactivity are also risk factors. “As we have been hearing, there are worse outcomes should you contract the coronavirus (COVID-19) if you have some of these risk factors. So now more than ever, it is very important that you know what we mean by knowing your numbers – your blood pressure number, blood sugar number, cholesterol number,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Chen said studies indicate that COVID-19 can have an adverse effect on the heart. Viral particles have been found in the heart muscle of persons who have died from COVID-19.

The HFJ Executive Director said it was also important for persons to know their body mass index (BMI) index, which is a measure of an individual’s weight in relation to their height.

Having excess weight can increase a person’s risk of developing a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular problems.
The launch of the HFJ’s 50th anniversary, originally scheduled for January 26, has been rescheduled for Thursday (February 4) and will be held in a virtual format.

Last Updated: January 31, 2021

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