Today, May 17th the Turks and Caicos Along with the Region under the theme “Know your Numbers” commemorates World Hypertension Day. Hypertension or as we refer to it high blood pressure also known as the “Silent Killer” is the main risk factor for suffering and dying as a result of premature cardiovascular conditions. Hypertension is also the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

"The incidence of hypertension in all social strata has doubled over the past 5 years. Globally, it is estimated that only 57% of hypertensive people know that they have hypertension. Hypertension is not curable but it is treatable. Yet, only 40.6% of persons receive antihypertensive drugs and of this percentage only 13.2% achieve blood pressure control numbers. The Turks and Caicos is no different and we must do something about this very alarming disease condition" stated Mrs. Robinson Director of Health Promotion and Advocacy within the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Human Services.

One may ask what is hypertension? hypertension means there is too much pressure in your blood vessels. This can damage your blood vessels and cause health problems.  Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but it becomes more common as you get older. Therefore, if there is a family history of hypertension, if you smoke, drink alcohol excessively, eat unhealthy diets, have diabetes or kidney disease, obese, have an inactive lifestyle, stressed often or have sleep apnea you should have your blood pressure checked regularly. The following tips will help you to prevent or control hypertension:

  • Be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. (moderate physical activity means you sweat a little and breathe a little harder)
  • Eat a healthy diet based on vegetables & fruit, low-fat milk products, whole grains & lean meats, fish, legumes (beans) and nuts.
  • Do not add salt/sodium to foods prepared at home or at the table.
  • Eat a lower salt/sodium diet. Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed or packaged foods, and restaurant & take-out meals. (Wash canned foods & other salty foods before eating or cooking.)
  • Learn to read the sodium content on food labels. Choose packaged foods with 5% or less daily value for sodium.
  • If you are overweight, aim to reduce to a healthy weight or in other words a healthy BMI measurement of 20-25.
  • Manage your stress levels to improve your coping skills and your health.
  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 standard drinks per day or less.
  • Do not smoke and avoid places where others are smoking

For more information on hypertension contact the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit on 338-2772.