(CMC) – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on Monday urged regional governments, civil society and private sector organisations and other stakeholders to adopt a more holistic approach to reducing the prevalence of hypertension in the Caribbean.
In a message marking World Hypertension Day, under the theme ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer,” the CARPHA said that the Caribbean governments and other stakeholders should work towards achieving a 25 per cent decline in the prevalence of hypertension by 2025 and premature mortality by a third by 2030.
CARPHA said hypertension or raised blood pressure is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases worldwide, with the non-Latin Caribbean having the highest mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease, accounting for 418 per 100,000 population.
“The Caribbean region has the highest prevalence of raised blood pressure in the Americas ranging from a high of 27.1 per cent to a low of 20.9 per cent,” said CARPHA Executive Director, Dr Joy St John, adding “it is a cause for concern and action when in all Caribbean countries, hypertension is above the regional average for the Americas”.
CARPHA said that it was recommending a number of measures to help the region reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure, including developing public education campaigns to improve public knowledge, attitude and practice towards hypertension prevention and control as well as establishing community screening programmes for the early detection of high blood pressure.
It said it was also ensuring capacity building of the health care workforce to accurately measure blood pressure, prevent and treat hypertension and promoting and supporting policies to reduce physical activity, unhealthy food environment, tobacco use, alcohol use, air pollution and stress management
CARPHA said it 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.
The Trinidad-based regional health institution said with the support of the French Development Agency (L’Agence Française de Développement), it 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 said it has developed a Framework for Reduction of Sodium in Caribbean populations, a major risk factor for hypertension.
The agency urged individuals to commit to healthy living, a healthy lifestyle and getting a regular check-up. Those who have hypertension are also urged to take their treatment as instructed by their health care provider, CARPHA added.