Health & Wellbeing
JAM | May 17, 2023

It’s World Hypertension Day

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hypertension otherwise known as high blood pressure is a leading cause of premature deaths globally.

Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer because many people are living with the disease without knowing.

Hypertension refers to a health condition where the blood pressure in the body becomes higher than normal (140/90 mmHg or higher).

According to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016/17, 1 in 3 Jamaicans are hypertensive with 35.8 per cent of that ratio being women and 31.7 per cent being men.

While 4 out of 10 Jamaicans are currently living with the health condition without knowing.

Today (May 17) is being observed as World Hypertension Day, an important day on the health calendar to spread awareness about the negative impacts of hypertension and the measures individuals can take to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Warning signs

There are many noticeable signs that are often associated with hypertension that should trigger some form of alarm or concern in individuals.

The most common symptoms associated with hypertension include severe headache, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, chest pain, anxiety, blurred vision, buzzing in the ears and among others.

These symptoms may also be associated with other health conditions therefore it is recommended that individuals do regular health checks with their physicians to aid in the early detection of any possible ailments they may be suffering.

Risk factors

A diet with an high concentration of sodium (salt), saturated fats and trans fat is a leading cause of high blood pressure.

It is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) that individuals consume less than 5g of salt per day. It is also recommended that individuals replace trans fat and saturated fat with more healthy options such as unsaturated fat which includes nuts, vegetable oils, avaocados and fish.

Another risk factor for high blood pressure is age. Persons can develop hypertension at an early age, however the health condition is more prevalent among persons 65 years and older.

Other risk factors include family history, obesity and a lack of regular physical activity.

How to check your blood pressure levels at home

This year, World Hypertension Day is being observed under the theme ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer’ which is aimed at promoting accurate blood pressure measurement.

A sphygmomanometer or blood pressure monitor is used to measure the blood pressure levels in the body. The sphygmomanometer can be both manual and digital.

Steps to check your blood pressure on a digital monitor:

  • Before checking your blood pressure level ensure that you are relaxed
  • Rest in a chair next to a table for a mininmum of five to ten minutes
  • Rest your forearm on the table with your palm facing upwards
  • Locate your pulse by placing your index finger in the center of the bend of your elbow
  • Place the cuff of the monitor onto your arm (ensure the stethoscope head is at the center of the atery/ bend of your elbow)
  • secure the cuff
  • Press the on button
  • Press the start button
  • The cuff will beigin to inflate
  • The cuff will deflate automatically
  • Make note of the reading
  • You can can check your blood pressure levels twice to ensure the reading is accurat

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