The Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has disclosed that the highest hypertension rates in the Americas are in the English-speaking Caribbean, affecting a quarter of all adults.
But Dr. Jarbas Barbosa noted that people could prevent many hypertension risk factors.
Those factors include overweight and obesity, lack of physical activity, high sodium/salt intake, and alcohol use.
Barbosa explained that preventing risk factors was crucial because hypertension often has no symptoms or signs.
The PAHO Director said, as a result, the condition is frequently undiagnosed and untreated.
He warned that undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension could lead to heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.
“Lifestyle changes and lifelong use of antihypertensive medications are key to reducing and controlling this condition,” Barbosa stated.
“To ensure this, PAHO recommends that people follow a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
According to Barbosa, this includes 30 minutes of exercise daily, five days a week; reducing sodium intake to less than 5g daily; increasing fruit and vegetable intake; and achieving and maintaining healthy body weight.
But beyond individual actions, the PAHO official observed that countries must implement evidence-based measures to promote healthy lifestyles.
They include interventions to promote healthy diets, such as front-of-package warning labels on processed and ultra-processed unhealthy food products and measures to reduce salt intake and salt content.
Barbosa’s remarks came in a statement to mark World Hypertension Day on May 17.
This year’s World Hypertension Day theme is: Measure your blood pressure accurately, Control it, Live Longer.