JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country.
  • Executive Director of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Deborah Chen made the appeal as the HFJ observes Heart Month.
  • Persons should also know the numbers of the various tests that can indicate their risk of heart disease.

Executive Director of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Deborah Chen, is imploring Jamaicans to get screened for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the country.

Mrs. Chen, who was speaking at a JIS Think Tank on February 11, made the appeal as the HFJ observes Heart Month.

She said that persons should also know the numbers of the various tests that can indicate their risk of heart disease. These include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI).

“We are encouraging everyone to find some time during February to know their numbers. Screening takes place on weekdays at the foundation’s Beechwood Avenue offices in Kingston and this Friday, February 14, while you are out doing your Valentine’s Day shopping, there will be teams at Boulevard Supercentre, Michi Supercentre, Liguanea Mall, Spanish Town Shopping Centre, Sovereign Centre and Portmore Mall to facilitate the process,” she informed.

The screenings are part of the HFJ’s road campaign to sensitize the public about the risk factors for heart disease and preventive measures.

Figures from the Jamaica Healthy Lifestyle Survey show that 25 per cent of Jamaicans have high blood pressure, eight per cent have diabetes, 12 per cent have high cholesterol, and 65 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men are overweight or obese.

Mrs. Chen said that almost 50 per cent of persons with high blood pressure are unaware of their status, so too 25 per cent of those with diabetes and 86 per cent of those with high cholesterol.

“The most distressing thing is that the risk factors are silent killers, and by the time you start to have symptoms, there would quite likely already have been damage, so screening is really the only way of knowing and at HFJ, no appointment or referral is necessary,” she said.

The screening tests offered by the HFJ include: electrocardiography (ECG) or heart test; blood sugar; haemoglobin, which measures the iron level in the blood; cholesterol; blood pressure;  HBA1C that measures blood sugar control over a three- month period; urinalysis; and the BMI.

“Persons with risk factors may just need lifestyle changes but once they have been identified it puts the individual in a good position to manage the condition and become active in the prevention of heart disease,” Mrs. Chen said.