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Hypertension, Diabetes killing our people

Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes are among the major causes of death in the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to the Ministry of Health of Human Services.

The Health Ministry, which conducted a study several years ago, found that many who suffer from Hypertension and diabetes are unaware of their condition.

The ministry pointed out in a news release to mark World Hypertension Day that the study showed that just under five percent of the local population that sought medical care was afflicted with hypertension, while just above two percent are stricken with diabetes.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands 2020 vision for Health Care report signified that during 2007 – 2009, prevalence rates based on people accessing care in the public sector in TCI was 4.6% and 2.1% of the general population for hypertension and diabetes mellitus, respectively. Hypertension and diabetes remain listed among the most common NCDs in TCI and are responsible for morbidity and mortality (disease and death),” the release stated.

The release stated that a lack of knowledge was the main engine driving the rise in those non-communicable diseases, which results in emergency rooms being packed with complications from the diseases as a result. Those complications, according to the Health Ministry often lead to death.

“Statistics show that around half of people living with hypertension are unaware of their condition, thereby putting themselves at risk of an avoidable medical complication including death. Hypertension is a chronic disease however it can be controlled by engaging in healthy lifestyles and adhering to treatment medication prescribed by doctors.

“There are over one billion people in today’s world living with hypertension who are faced with risks of major complications such as cardiovascular disease and premature death. It is evident that many will end up in an emergency crisis due to lack of knowledge and/or lack of compliance with taking the correct medication as prescribed,” the release continued.

The Ministry of Health noted that amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is much evidence that persons with underlying medical conditions are more susceptible to poorer outcomes if infected with the virus. This, it said, underscores the importance of persons managing their hypertension and discussing with their health care provider taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Our goal is for all to remain healthy,” the release said.

World Hypertension Day is observed on May 17 this year. This year’s theme is: “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”.

“Healthy living breeds healthy blood pressures. We should continue to be aware of the risks posed by hypertension if left untreated or poorly managed such as kidney disease, diabetes, organ damage, stroke and heart disease by extension and death.

“ It is essential for persons to know their numbers, get their blood pressure checked on a regular basis and if you have hypertension, that you adhere to doctor’s orders, such as taking medication, regular blood pressure management, take regular exercise and eat a healthy diet which can all help to promote healthy living.

“In order to symbolize World Hypertension Day, the World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization host events to bring about awareness with a resolution to saving lives. We are striving to do the same here,” the release continued.

According to the ministry, the recommended blood pressures are less than 140/90 mmHg for the general population and for the hypertensive population without any other complications, and less than 130/80 mmHg for those with diabetes mellitus or chronic kidney disease, which are the cut-off values recommended by international guidelines.

In the meantime, the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit has collaborated with nurses who are celebrating Nurses Week which started on May 12, with the following schedule of events:

· 14th May-Sip and Paint Grand Turk 7pm

· 15th May- Grand Turk Movie Night at the Parade Grounds 7pm

· 16th May- Church Services across all islands Nurses to wear white other to wear red in support of persons living with hypertension 11am

· 17th May – Tire Circuit workout, bring your car tire! Where Ministry of Health Parking lot 5pm

· For more information, contact the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit on 3382772.

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