Health

Free blood pressure screening at HFJ this week

Sunday, March 11, 2018

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THE Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) has joined the rest of the world in observance of World Salt Awareness Week, March 12-18, and is urging Jamaicans to watch their sodium intake and look out for hidden salt.

In fact, the foundation said it will be offering free blood pressure and limited blood sugar screenings throughout the week of March 12-16 at 28 Beechwood Ave as it continues to encourage Jamaicans to own their heart health by getting checked.

HFJ said in a release Friday that high sodium consumption, more than five grams daily, contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

High blood pressure has been on the rise in Jamaica and the effects have rapidly been passed down to children, the release continued.

The foundation said it recognises that high blood pressure is directly related to salt consumption and has sought to help Jamaicans jump-start the process by knowing their numbers (blood pressure and waist measurement) through the free screenings this week.

In the meantime, Dr Professor Alafia Samuels, director of the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, found in a Jamaican study that in “2017, almost 18,000 girls and more than 15,000 boys, 10-19 years old, had elevated blood pressure because of obesity”.

This and other examples around the world is why the World Action on Salt and Health comments: “It is increasingly unlikely that WHO member states will reach their target of a 30 per cent reduction in population salt intake by 2025”.

However, it is not too late to start, HFJ said.

Most of the salt we consume (75 per cent) comes from processed food. We need to pay close attention to labels when we are buying food. We can switch to lower salt options and we can also cut down or not add salt during cooking, but instead use tasty ingredients such as herbs, spices and citrus. This can make a huge difference to your salt intake,” Deborah Chen, executive director of HFJ, is quoted as saying in the release.

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