The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) encourages Barbadians to join in the global awareness of the effects of persistently elevated blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension is often of gradual onset and may occur at any age but is more likely to develop between 30-60 years old, among persons with a family history and in those who are overweight or obese.
In a national cross-sectional survey, 41% of Barbadians aged 25 years and older were found to be hypertensive, but only 26% were aware of their diagnosis1. The widely held notion that you can always ‘tell when your pressure is high’ is therefore false. When blood pressure is significantly elevated there is often no headache, dizziness or any other symptom, but damage to the heart and blood vessels is ongoing. Regular medical visits are important for the detection and management of hypertension.
Controlling high blood pressure prevents stroke and heart disease, which may impact quality and duration of life. If you have prescribed medication for control of blood pressure, it should be taken at the same time every day. By monitoring your blood pressure at home while taking medication, you are empowered to detect and report persistent changes that may occur. Recording you blood pressure and giving readings to your doctor also helps them to adjust medication and monitor trends.
BAMP encourages Barbadians to prepare meals at home with no added salt, rather than regularly consuming fast/processed food. By doing this, along with decreasing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing your portion size, you will be better able to reduce weight, reduce salt intake and manage hypertension.
Moderate exercise on most days of the week also reduces blood pressure and the risk of stroke and heart disease. Maintaining a high degree of physical activity is also important, and simple adjustments such as taking the stairs and moving around instead of sitting have significant impact.
Reducing psychological stress will also impact your blood pressure. You can achieve this by managing your time, avoiding interpersonal conflicts, getting adequate sleep, taking walks outdoors, gardening, interacting with a pet, communicating with family and friends, and not neglecting you spiritual and emotional well-being.
Love life….Fight Hypertension!
1 Unwin N, Rose AMC, George KS, Hambleton IR, Howitt C. The Barbados Health of the Nation Survey: Core Findings. Chronic Disease Research Centre, The University of the West Indies and the Barbados Ministry of Health: St. Michael, Barbados, January 2015; 48 pp.