Dr. Beverley Barnett, PAHO/WHO Guyana Representative,
World Health Day Message
World Health Day is the ‘birth’ anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO), celebrated on 7 April each year since the Organization was founded in 1948. Each year, the WHO selects a theme that highlights a priority area of public health concern in the world.
The theme for World Health Day 2013 is “controlling high blood pressure”, and it provides an opportunity to focus attention on the prevention and control of high blood pressure – hypertension – as a means of reducing the number of people affected by cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the inside of blood vessels and is created by the pumping of the heart. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is recorded as two numbers, usually written one above the other. The upper number is the systolic blood pressure, the highest pressure in blood vessels when the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood out to the rest of the body, resulting in a heartbeat, while the lower number is the diastolic blood pressure, the lowest pressure in blood vessels in between heartbeats, when the heart muscle relaxes and blood flows into the heart from the rest of the body.
Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg; uncontrolled hypertension (140/90 mm Hg or higher) is the most important risk factor for CVD, particularly heart attacks and strokes. It can also cause kidney failure, blindness, peripheral vascular disease (“poor circulation”) and heart failure. The risk of developing CVD and other complications is increased when high blood pressure occurs together with other risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, inadequate physical activity, obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
One in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure, and prevalence increases with age, from 10% of people in their twenties and thirties to 50% of people in their fifties. In the Region of the Americas, levels of awareness and rates of treatment and control are low, despite the availability of effective yet inexpensive drugs to control hypertension. Behind the statistics is a silent killer that can affect anyone; people often have no symptoms, and many are not even aware of their high blood pressure and the associated health risks. The result is that many go undiagnosed until they develop complications.
The impact of hypertension in the Americas is primarily through high rates of CVD, and current CVD death rates are markedly higher among upper-middle and lower-middle-income countries than in high- and low-income countries. Rising rates of CVD have increased national health expenditures, and the increase in premature deaths has caused losses in the labour force as well as family and community disruption.
Yet hypertension is both preventable and treatable. Normal levels of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure are particularly important for the efficient functioning of vital organs, such as the heart, brain, and kidney, and for overall health and wellbeing. In some developed countries, prevention and treatment of hypertension and other CVD risk factors have significantly reduced deaths from heart attack and stroke. CVD death rates have also been declining in many countries of the Americas as a result of better prevention programs and health service interventions.
But individuals also must take action. You can reduce the chance of developing high blood pressure by:
For many people, lifestyle changes are sufficient to control blood pressure. For others, medication is required. People who develop high blood pressure may need medication(s) to control it, and also should take the actions above to reduce other CVD risk factors. Self-care – meaning actions or behaviours each person can take in his or her daily life – plays an important role in the prevention and control of high blood pressure.
Many people who are diagnosed with hypertension may not have easy access to treatment, or their blood pressure may be poorly controlled. Inexpensive medication exists, which is effective when taken as prescribed. As with all drugs, there may be side effects, but these can be reduced or abolished with change in dosage or change in medication. It is critical that you visit your local clinic or doctor to have your blood pressure measured and take the necessary steps to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure or, if you have it, to control it. Talk to close family and friends to help make them aware of how important it is to “know your numbers” and control your blood pressure. We must educate ourselves and work with our health care providers to make sure we stay healthy.
In addition to the general public and people with hypertension, the audience for World Health Day includes health system personnel, health care providers, and policymakers. PAHO/WHO will work with the Ministry of Health, other ministries, and other stakeholders to keep up the momentum of World Health Day throughout the 2013 calendar year, creating synergies with other campaigns, including Wellness Week and world days focused on tobacco, heart disease, kidney health, and diabetes.
On this World Health Day 2013, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) emphasizes the importance of good health throughout the life-course to save lives, protect health, and prevent high blood pressure. Know your numbers and take action for health!
The Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It serves as the Regional Office of the World Health Organization. The PAHO/WHO Guyana Office, established in 1967, coordinates the Organization’s technical cooperation with Guyana.
PAHO/WHO Guyana Staff Measuring Their Blood Pressure To Reduce Risk
Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO, World Health Day 2013 Message on You Tube.
World Health Day Walk Sunday 7April 2013
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with PAHO/WHO invites you to join a health walk to mark World Health Day, on Sunday, April 7th 2013. The theme for this year is “Hypertension - know Your Number.” There will be two assembly points (please choose one): The West Ruimveldt Playground (opposite BK Int.) or Campbellville Secondary School to commence walking at 6a.m. sharp. The destination is the North Ruimveldt Secondary School located on Mandela Avenue, where free blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and BMI calculation will be offered. There will be Health talks on healthy diets, exercise and food preparation.
Join us on this walk for Health!!!
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