Message from the Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony on World Hypertension Day 2023

Today, May 17, we join the World Health Organization (WHO) and all other health partners to observe World Hypertension Day under the theme “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”.

Hypertension, commonly called high blood pressure, affects an estimated 1.13 billion persons globally, with more than two-thirds living in low- and middle-income countries.  Men are slightly more affected than women. High blood pressure is considered the “silent killer” since it has vague or no symptoms. Over time, uncontrolled Hypertension commonly leads to chronic kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, dementia and death. Stroke and ischemic heart disease, arising from hypertension, are consistently among Guyana’s top causes of death.

When your healthcare provider tells you your blood pressure, they say two numbers. For instance, they might say your blood pressure is “130 over 80.”. The top number (systolic pressure) is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is contracting. The bottom number (diastolic pressure) is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is relaxed.

Many experts define high, elevated, and normal blood pressure as follows:

  • High – Top number of 130 or above and/or bottom number of 80 or above.
  • Elevated – Top number between 120 and 129 and a bottom number 79 or below.
  • Normal – Top number of 119 or below and bottom number of 79 or below.

A STEPS Survey conducted in 2016 in Guyana showed that 18.4% of Guyanese were found to have high blood pressure but were not on medication. The MoH has introduced the HEARTS protocol for persons with elevated and high blood pressure.

HEARTS is the acronym for Healthy lifestyle counselling, Evidence-based protocols, Access to essential medicines and technology, Risk-based cardiovascular disease management, Team-based care and Systems for monitoring. HEARTS is fundamentally evidence-based practice in diagnosing and treating arterial hypertension.

The Hearts protocol program is currently available in 95 health centres throughout Guyana. This program is designed to assist hypertensive patients in managing their blood pressure more effectively. It can also help delay the progression of elevated blood pressure to high blood pressure and prevent associated complications. The goal is to have all health centres adopt this program by 2025.

On World Hypertension Day, I urge everyone to understand how to measure and control their blood pressure to live longer. You can learn how to measure your blood pressure from your doctor or healthcare provider during your visit to the Health Centre. It’s essential to check your blood pressure to ensure it remains controlled regularly. If you are taking hypertension medication, follow your doctor’s instructions and take your prescribed treatment without skipping any doses.I want to applaud all healthcare professionals, especially those at the primary healthcare level, for their dedication and hard work in ensuring that people with hypertension receive accurate diagnosis, effective management, and control. Let’s collaborate to lessen the impact of this illness.

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