Less hypertensive emergencies
In the emergency room of the Carlos Verdugo Polyclinic, all three beds are occupied. In one of them, an elderly woman receives medication to reduce her blood pressure, which had been triggered by a family crisis.
"Prior to the project, we had four to five cases of uncontrolled hypertension each day. Now, they rarely exceed two," said Iván Hernández Cruz, Emergency Physician at the polyclinic.
According to Hernández Cruz more than 60% of cases are resolved at the polyclinic. Patients are then referred to the family doctor for follow-up. He added that most cases are resolved by the family doctor before they become emergencies.
With her notebook and statistics in hand, Director of the Carlos Verdugo Polyclinic, Aicel Reinoso Mackay, highlights another encouraging result: Heart attacks are no longer the main cause of emergency room visits.
From Matanzas to Cienfuegos and Villa Clara
Yamilé Valdéz González, the Project's National Technical Coordinator from Cuba's National Hypertension Commission revealed that "the experience of Matanzas shows that hypertension can be managed within a short time-frame and improvements can be made to treat complications and improve quality of life." As a result, the country took the initiative to a national level and is currently extending it to the provinces of Cienfuegos and Villa Clara.
"The HEARTS project is an opportunity to implement a series of simple measures that work, prevent complications from cardiovascular diseases and save lives," said Pedro Orduñez, PAHO/WHO Regional Advisor on the Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases.
The measures included in the HEARTS package include counseling on healthy lifestyles, the implementation of evidence-based treatment protocols, access to essential medicines and technologies, health-based care, and the implementation of ongoing monitoring systems.
In addition to Cuba, the HEARTS initiative in the Americas is being implemented in Barbados, Chile, and Colombia. Ecuador and Panama have also recently joined the project.