Washington, D.C., 17 April 2013 (PAHO/WHO) –– The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) spread the word about hypertension (high blood pressure) during a soccer match between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls on 13 April at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The event, dubbed “World Health Night,” was part of this year’s World Health Day campaign, which focuses on hypertension and the need to keep one’s blood pressure under 140/90 to avoid health problems.
During the event, PAHO/WHO representatives distributed educational pamphlets on hypertension and T-shirts with the World Health Day logo and slogan. Two PAHO/WHO stands, one in the tailgate area and another inside the stadium, provided spectators with blood pressure checks and measurement of body mass index (BMI).
"Many people didn’t know they had high blood pressure, and those who did know said their doctors had told them about it, but they weren’t doing anything about it because they felt okay,” said Susan Mangan, a registered nurse and PAHO staff member in charge of measuring blood pressure at the event.
“When I asked them whether they knew how to prevent high blood pressure, many answered that they don’t put salt on food," said Mangan, "but they were not aware of how much salt they get from processed foods.”
PAHO/WHO Deputy Director Jon Andrus performed the coin toss to start the match and to determine the teams’ placement on the field.
“Of all the risk factors for premature death, high blood pressure is number one," he said, adding, "Looking around the stadium, one in every three fans does not even know they have this dangerous risk factor."
Andrus thanked D.C. United for giving PAHO/WHO the opportunity to spread the word about hypertension, which he said was “absolutely essential to warn people about premature death.”
Thousands of spectators were able to hear or read on a giant digital screen messages such as “Know your numbers: Hypertension = 140/90” and “Control your blood pressure - Care for your heart." A group of PAHO/WHO volunteers circled the playing field carrying a banner with the same messages, and members of the all-women’s percussion band Batala Washington wore T-shirts with hypertension slogans as they performed Afro-Brazilian rhythms during half-time.
High blood pressure is the number-one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and also increases the risk of kidney failure, blindness, and other serious health problems.
World Health Day, which is celebrated every year on 7 April, commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the World Health Organization in 1948. Each year a different theme is selected to highlight a priority issue of concern for global public health.
- World Health Day - PAHO
- Message of PAHO’s Director for World Health Day
- World Health Day - WHO
- In the Americas, one in three adults has hypertension, the leading risk factor for death from cardiovascular disease
- Link to photo gallery of event
- Video Highlights "Know Your Numbers" at DC UNITED Stadium