TT among the countries with the most cases of hypertension

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A multi-layered image showing the bustle along the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain. Photo by Jeff K Mayers

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says Trinidad and Tobago is one of the countries in the region with the most cases of arterial hypertension.

Dr Jarbas Barbosa, director of PAHO, spoke at a virtual press conference on hypertension on Thursday.

Barbosa said hypertension is the main risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which are the main cause of premature deaths in the region, with more than two million deaths a year. Barbosa said if hypertension is left untreated, it can cause heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and blindness.

Barbosa said the highest rates of hypertension are found in the Caribbean, where it affects a quarter of the population.

Dr Anselm Hennis, director, of noncommunicable diseases, responding to a question from Newsday, said TT has even higher hypertension numbers than the overall Caribbean measure.

“The Caribbean has a 23 per cent rate of hypertension compared to 17.6 per cent overall, while TT has a 25.8 per cent overall rate that follows from 29 per cent in men and 23.7 per cent in women,” he said.

“It has been seen that Western countries have higher rates of hypertension, especially due to obesity, high sodium and salt consumption, alcohol and smoking,” he said.

He said the Caribbean community needs to eat better and have less processed products.

“The Caribbean imports a lot of food. It is necessary to promote changes from an early age, the use of labels with warnings.”

Barbosa said for World Hypertension Day on May 17, PAHO will focus on preventive measures.

“In the Americas, one in five people suffer from hypertension and most do not know they suffer from it. Of who they know, only 60 per cent receive treatment and 30 per cent of them are controlled. This is serious,” Barbosa said.

PAHO recommends that people lead a healthy lifestyle with at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, reduce the consumption of salt and tobacco, and maintain an appropriate weight level.