The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is urging Jamaicans to “know their numbers” in an effort to maintain heart health and reduce the risk or prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and other NCDs for Heart Month in February and beyond.
In knowing your numbers, you should ensure to do regular checks on your blood pressure, sugar levels, and cholesterol to either maintain a healthy life or treat to sustain health.
The Foundation launched Heart Month 2023 today (January 31) at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew.
ABOUT HEART MONTH
Observed in February, the Heart Month 2023 theme is, ‘Do your part, check your heart’. It is celebrated in February to raise awareness of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and how to mitigate them.
The HFJ shares that, in 2001, the Jamaica Health Lifestyle survey found that 45.7 per cent of people 15 years and over were overweight or obese, 20.9 per cent had high blood pressure and 7.2 per cent were diabetic. In2017 these figures had moved to 53.9 per cent, 31.5 per cent and 10.2 per cent, respectively.
According to the National Health Survey, 2022, 52 per cent of Jamaicans are overweight or obese, 25 per cent are hypertensive, 12 per cent have high cholesterol, and eight per cent have known diabetes.
It is against those numbers that the HFJ stresses that “screening is very important in knowing our health status”.
THE ‘LUB-DUB’ OF THE HEART
Guest speaker at the launch, Dr Brian James, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), spoke of the contractual partnership that people have with their heart. He explained that the heart increases and decreases output to meet the demands of the body. However, if people are not aware of their numbers or practice heart healthy habits, a strain is put on the heart and the result may lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, among others.
James, who is an anesthesiologist, mentioned the heart’s function of distributing material filled with oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body with the ‘lub-dub’ beat. He referred to the heart as “the ultimate servant and team player for life”.
“The first step in upholding our end of the contract is to assess your risk,” he said.
The MAJ president stressed that his organisation will be toe-to-toe with the HFJ to stress the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and being screened so that any risk can be detected early and the appropriate interventions made.
STATISTICS IN CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE AND NCDs
Another speaker at the event, Dr Simone Spence, director of the Health Promotions and Protection Branch of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, shared that seven out of 10 people die worldwide from NCDs such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Many of these persons are exposed to risk factors such as physical inactivity, alcohol use, and unhealthy diets from very early in their lives.
“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and accounts for 30 per cent of deaths in Jamaicans. There is a high prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors in our population including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, overweight, and obesity. These occur at higher rates in women than in men,” she said.
Spence highlighted that, in 2017, 30,000 children in Jamaica between the ages of 10 and 19 were diagnosed with hypertension, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. She also stated that the prevalence of high blood pressure is 33.8 per cent in Jamaicans over the age of 15 years with a high prevalence of 35.8 per cent of women compared to men at 31.7 per cent.
“Obesity and being overweight is a leading risk factor for heart disease. On the global scale, childhood obesity has increased tenfold over the last 40 years. One in two Jamaicans 15 years of age or older are overweight,” Spence said.
“Every adult should know what their health numbers are – what their blood pressure is, as well as their blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as their body mass index. It is important for you to know your numbers. They are key indicators for serious cardiovascular health issues,” she continued.
SERIES OF ACTIVITIES FOR HEART MONTH
For the month of February, the HFJ has planned a series of promotional activities and outside broadcasts, a virtual medical symposium and screenings across various locations – all in commemoration of Heart Month.
These activities include:
- February 2, 2023 -JIS Think Tank
- February 2, 2023- Outside Broadcast, HFJ Head Office
- February 11, 2023- Screening across 4 locations: HiLo Cross Road,
- HiLo Barbican, Sovereign Centre Liguanea and the Portmore Pines Plaza
- February 11, 2023- Live broadcast at Portmore Pine’s Plaza
- February 14, 2023- Outside Broadcast at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica’s Head Office, 28 Beechwood Avenue
- February 25, 2023- Outside Broadcast at the Tropical Mall Plaza on Constant Spring Road
- February 28, 2023- Virtual Medical Symposium at 6:00 pm via Zoom
- Family and Friends CPR Day- Saturday March 11, 2023
The HFJ continues to stress the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and of being screened; so that any risk can be detected early, and the appropriate intervention made.
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