a civil society alliance for combatting chronic disease in the caribbean

Healthy Caribbean Coalition - Sint Maarten Supports World Hypertension Day

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – St. Maarten’s calendar of health observances is to promote particular local or global health issues, and encourage our population to Get Checked. World Hypertension Day, Friday, May 17th, is one of the listed opportunities.

In 2013, World Hypertension Day is dedicated to the theme, “Healthy Blood Pressure – Healthy Heart Beat.”

To commemorate the day, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour has joined forces with the Diabetes Foundation on Saturday, May 18 at Le Grande Marche on the Bush road from 10.00am to 12.00pm. Individuals will have the opportunity to measure blood pressure and give tips to the general public on reading labels when shopping, especially with respect to the intake of salt.

Hypertension also known as High Blood Pressure is a chronic medical condition that is preventable and treatable. It is possible to develop high blood pressure at any age and anyone can get high blood pressure especially if they have a family history of it. It is the major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, two of the main causes of illness and death in the Caribbean and the Americas.

Hypertension is sometimes called the ‘silent killer’, because most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms and don’t know that they have it. More people worldwide are affected by hypertension than by HIV or AIDS.

The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Cornelius De Weever is calling on the St. Maarten populace to ‘Get Checked,’ and know your risk factors.

Preventing or reducing high blood pressure through greater awareness and encouraging healthy behaviors is a collective responsibility.

St. Maarten Joins with the World Hypertension League in commemorating World Hypertension Day 2013.

n the “How Healthy is St. Maarten?“ study in 1998/1999, hypertension was the second most common chronic disorder and became worst as people grew older. More than twice as many elderly people suffer from high blood pressure compared to younger age groups. Having ones blood pressure checked regularly is very important, especially in light of the fact that 13% of the participants in Sint Maarten reported suffering from high blood pressure.

The study also showed that the population of Sint Maarten leads a sedentary lifestyle with only 24% of all participants practicing any kind of physical activity or sport regularly (at least once a week).

In addition, the eating habits left much to be desired. Almost one third does not have breakfast daily, even though it is the most important meal of the day. Two thirds of the population does not have fruits and vegetables daily, 15% does not consider ‘Use little salt’ important and 19% add extra salt to prepared food. 17% of the participants do not consider ‘Use little sugar or products containing sugar’ important and 34% add extra sugar to prepared drinks.

When we look at the weight the results are alarming, the study showed that among both sexes more than 50% of the participants are overweight or obese.

High blood pressure, equal to or above 140/90 mmHg, increases one’s risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

Hypertension is both preventable and treatable. Although high blood pressure affects some 30 per cent of the adult population, a third of them do not know they have the condition.

Hypertension often has no symptoms, which means adults need to take every opportunity to get their blood pressure checked. The health risks of hypertension are even higher for people who also smoke, are obese or have diabetes.

Hypertension can be prevented by consuming less salt; maintaining a healthy and balanced diet; engaging in regular physical activity; avoiding tobacco use; and avoiding harmful use of alcohol.

Department of Communications (DCOMM), Ennia Bldg., Longwall Rd., Philipsburg, Sint Maarten D.W.I. Tel. + 721-543-1162, 542-4119, Fax: 543-1169; Email: gis@sintmaarten.net; Website: www.sintmaartengov.org