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Heart Month 2014: Do you know your numbers?

BY ANIKA RICHARDS Observer Online writer richardsai@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, February 01, 2014 | 3:17 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – ‘Know Your Numbers’ -- this is the theme and thrust for the Heart Foundation of Jamaica’s (HFJ)Heart Month 2014, which was officially launched Tuesday by Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston.

The numbers you are urged to know refer to the results of various tests that should be done to determine if you are at risk of, or have heart disease, executive director of the HFJ, Deborah Chen, told the gathering on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately in Jamaica, the leading cause of death is cardiovascular disease,” Chen said.

She cited data from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey of 2007/2008, which indicate that 25 per cent of Jamaicans had hypertension with only 60 per cent of those being aware of it. According to the survey, 65 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men were overweight, while 86 per cent of people with high cholesterol were unaware of their disease status.

“The awareness of your condition is directly related to you receiving treatment and preventing complications,” said Chen. “Our thrust for this month is to encourage the public to know their numbers and to try and prevent the fallout in terms of heath from cardiovascular disease.”

Consultant cardiologist at the HFJ, Dr Camille Christian stressed that individuals should know what a normal blood-pressure reading is, and what their reading is (a normal blood pressure reading is 120 over 80 or less).

Individuals should also know numbers for cholesterol, blood sugar, their waist measurement, their BMI, and HbA1C, which is a lab test that shows the average level of blood sugar over the previous three months. All these numbers will help to determine if someone is at risk for heart disease, the HFJ emphasised.

The HFJ will be having several activities throughout February to observe Heart Month, including a medical symposium, three outside broadcasts, and visits to 22 health centres islandwide.

The Heart Foundation was established in 1971 by the Lion’s Club of Kingston in an effort to minimise the incidence of death from heart disease in Jamaica.

The institution offers heart screening in-house, and through its mobile programme at health centres, supermarkets, health fairs and corporate offices.

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