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Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is the most common non-communicable disease (NCD) in Jamaica and one of the five leading causes of death among the population. It is caused by abnormally high tension (or pressure) in the arteries – the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Blood pressure is measured in systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the tension in the heart when it contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is the tension in the heart when it relaxes.

Normal or healthy blood pressure readings range from 90 – 120 (systolic), and 60 – 80 (diastolic). Conversely, high blood pressure readings are above 120 and 80.

Blood pressure readings are written as sys tolic pressure over diastolic pressure. Therefore, a blood pressure of 120 systolic and 80 diastolic would be written as 120/80.

Factors that can lead to hypertension include:

• Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 36 ml of pure alcohol per day)
• Excessive sodium intake (more than 1500 mg per day)
• Lack of physical activity
• Obesity
• Smoking
• Stress

To prevent or manage hypertension, the Ministry of Health (MOH) recommends a healthy diet, daily physical activity, regular health check-ups and taking medications properly.

For additional information, please contact the:
Ministry of Health
10-16 Grenada Way
Kingston 5
Tel: 876-633-8172, 876-633-7771

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