Residents warned not to ignore hypertension diagnosis or ‘give up’ on medication

In line with this year’s World Hypertension Day theme – “Measure your blood pressure, control it, live longer” – residents are being urged to take diagnoses seriously and maintain treatment to avoid worsened health conditions.
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By Orville Williams

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Residents are being warned to take hypertension diagnoses seriously and urged to stay the course with respect to medication, in staving off the debilitating effects of the condition.

Cardiologist, Dr Georgette Meade, addressed these and other health concerns yesterday, while speaking on the global observation of World Hypertension Day (WHD), which is being recognised under the theme, “Measure your blood pressure, control it, live longer”.

According to the US’ National Library of Medicine, the condition – if uncontrolled – causes the “acceleration of damage to mainly the heart, the kidney, the brain and the arterial blood vessels”, which can then result in “eventual organ failure and cardiovascular death and disability”.

For these reasons, Dr Meade says persons in Antigua and Barbuda need to be more accepting of a hypertension diagnosis and work on controlling their health.

“One thing I’ve found is, even when persons are told they are hypertensive, they seem to sort of go into denial. They don’t want to believe they’re hypertensive and they’re going to say ‘only when I come to the doctor [my] pressure is high’.

“I would [then] ask, ‘so when last did you check [your pressure] at home? What was it?’ They don’t have that comparison and so it’s dangerous doing that, because in the meantime the hypertension is damaging these vital organs,” Dr Meade explained.   

The cardiologist also addressed the propensity of many existing hypertension patients to ‘give up’ on their medications due to some of the unfortunate side effects.

“Some persons [are] like, ‘I don’t like that one [because] it gives me this side effect’ and that’s the end of that. Don’t do that, please go back to your physician and explain to them what’s going on.

“Maybe the dose is not the right dose for you or maybe you need another option, but when you just disregard it, the blood pressure is causing all of this havoc. It doesn’t disappear, it’s still there, so even if we ignore it, it’s still causing damage”, she warned.

Dr Meade applauded the state of medical services available in the twin-island nation, pointing to the work that the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) is doing to provide patients with several treatment options.

She also spoke on the wider work being done to arrest the prevalence of hypertension, while acknowledging the need for improvement. Days like WHD, she added, will help to raise awareness and hopefully, make that work a bit easier.

“I would say that we’re taking it very slowly, [but] we want to be a bit more aggressive about it. Many persons are now purchasing their [blood pressure] machines and monitoring at home, they do go to the health centers and they’re trying to eat a bit healthier with lower salt diets.

“But if we’re going to be looking at the percentage, I think we’re not even at 30 percent as yet, so that is quite concerning.

“This is why we highlight these days, not that we’re only going to talk about hypertension on May 17, but it’s there to [help us focus on the condition] and we then continue sharing the information with our family and friends”.

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