Hypertension or raised blood pressure is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases worldwide. It is therefore not surprising that the non-Latin Caribbean has the highest mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease, accounting for 418 per 100,000 population.
Once more, this year, the Caribbean and the rest of the world will commemorate World Hypertension Day under the theme: Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer. CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John says, “The Caribbean region has the highest prevalence of raised blood pressure in the Americas ranging from a high of 27.1% to a low of 20.9%”. She adds, “It is a cause for concern and action when in all Caribbean countries, hypertension is above the regional average for the Americas”.
CARPHA is therefore calling on governments, civil society, private sector, academia, community-based organisations, and faith-based organisations to take a whole of society approach and work together to reduce the prevalence of hypertension by 25% by 2025 and premature mortality by a third by 2030. The implementation of the following measures can help the Region to achieve these goals:
- developing public education campaigns to improve public knowledge, attitude and practice towards hypertension prevention and control
- establishing community screening programmes for the early detection of high blood pressure
- ensuring capacity building of the health care workforce to accurately measure blood pressure, prevent and treat hypertension
- promoting and supporting policies to assist with stress management, increase physical activity, reduce unhealthy food environment, tobacco use, alcohol use and air pollution
Through combined and coordinated efforts, CARPHA is also committed to continuing its work to increase awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure and to address the risk factors associated with the disease.
With the support of the French Development Agency (L’Agence Française de Développement), CARPHA is leading the updating of a clinical guideline for the management of hypertension in primary care in the Caribbean.
Other CARPHA-driven policies and guidelines include implementation of the six-point policy package to create a healthy food environment, such as, the implementation of the octagon-shaped front-of-package warning label “High-IN” model, where research has shown within and outside of the Caribbean to be the best performing system to help consumers correctly, quickly and easily identify products that contain excessive amounts of critical nutrients.
Additionally, CARPHA has developed a Framework for Reduction of Sodium in Caribbean populations, a major risk factor for hypertension. The Agency is urging individuals to make this your year to commit to healthy living, a healthy lifestyle, and getting a regular check-up. For those that have hypertension, CARPHA encourages you to take your treatment as instructed by your health care provider.
We are stronger together.