Providing easy access to information such as blood pressure levels encourages everyone to take responsibility for their own health, so the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) has just installed three new blood pressure kiosks which will help people monitor their blood pressure levels whenever they want. One kiosk has been installed at the Government Administrative Building, and the other two at the Cayman Islands Hospital: one at the General Practice Unit and the other in the Atrium of the hospital’s main entrance.
Cardiovascular disease is the chronic non-communicable disease which kills most people globally affecting one billion people worldwide, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. One of its key risk factors is high blood pressure. The World Health Organisation estimates that raised blood pressure currently kills nine million people every year.
Dr. Kiran Kumar, Medical Officer of Health, said that in view of the enormous public health benefits of blood pressure control, now is the time for concerted action. “I am pleased that the Public Health Department, through support from the Ministry of Health, was able to install three automated blood pressure and heart rate monitoring units,” Dr. Kumar said. “This means patients, civil servants and visitors alike can benefit from the ease of accessing information on an important aspect of their health.”
Health practitioners are taking the monitoring of high blood pressure very seriously because of its prevalence here in the Cayman Islands. According to the statistics, in 2008, non-communicable diseases that caused the most deaths in the country were high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), diabetes, mental disorders, asthma and cancer. The 2010 Census revealed that hypertension was one of the top three illnesses, with a prevalence of 89.1 per 1000 of the population, representing 12% of adults.
Lizzette Yearwood, Chief Executive Officer at the HSA said that increasing public awareness is key, as is access to early detection. “This initiative is in keeping with our strategic plan to provide access to information on prevention, risks, diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions. Raised blood pressure is a serious warning sign that significant lifestyle changes are urgently needed. People need to know why raised blood pressure is dangerous, and how to take steps to control it,” Ms Yearwood said. “Patients also need to know that raised blood pressure and other risk factors such as diabetes often appear together.”
“It is important that the public is educated and takes a personal responsibility on their health”, Ms Yearwood said. “Knowing your numbers provides motivation to reduce health risks, a key message that was offered at the 2014 Cayman Islands Healthcare Conference, which examined whether the war was being won on hypertension and other chronic non-communicable diseases.”
Dr Kumar said that on a positive note, hypertension could be prevented. “Preventing hypertension is far less costly, and far safer for patients, than interventions such as cardiac bypass surgery and dialysis that may be needed when hypertension is missed and goes untreated,” Dr Kumar said. “As with other non-communicable diseases, it has been found that awareness aids early detection while self-care helps ensure regular intake of medication, healthy behaviours and better control of the condition.”
Photo caption: Dr. Samuel Williams, Clinical Head of General Practice Clinic, with a patient at one of the new blood pressure kiosks.