Heart health stats every Jamaican should knowSunday, September 26, 2021
BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
HEART disease accounts for 30 per cent of yearly deaths in Jamaica and it is estimated that the situation will worsen if locals do not adopt a much healthier lifestyle.
While prevention is better than cure, it is important to understand how cardiovascular conditions burden a struggling health system and might put you at greater risk for disability or death.
Below are several heart health statistics every Jamaican should know.
1. Approximately 51 per cent of people who died from COVID-19 in Jamaica had pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
2. On average, 33.8 per cent of Jamaicans have high blood pressure.
3. Research shows that 30 per cent of local deaths are tied to at least one cardiovascular disease.
4. Reportedly, 11.9 per cent of Jamaicans are diabetic.
Internist, Dr Rani Sittol said it is important for people to pay attention to the statistics, particularly to protect themselves from COVID-19. He said those who suffer from heart disease should get vaccinated, take their medication and modify their risk factors.
Further, Dr Sittol said the preponderance of patients who become critically ill from COVID-19 also develop multi-organ failure in addition to respiratory failure.
“The more organ systems needing support, the more likely it is a patient will die. Patients with other underlying illnesses are unlikely to withstand the demands of being critically ill. Because critically ill patients are so difficult to treat, especially on the background of other co-morbidities, the only tool in our armamentarium remains prevention,” he said.
Subsequently, prevention of COVID-19 with highly effective and safe vaccines, Dr Sittol said, is of utmost importance.
He, however, said since many people are still hesitant, there must be increased encouragement for the proper management of underlying illnesses, which was a huge contributor to mortality in Jamaica pre-COVID-19.
“Those with heart disease are also likely to have high blood pressure and should pay specific attention to the COVID-19 containment measures such as mask-wearing, staying home, vaccination and obeying no-movement days. If one third of deaths have underlying heart disease, these are the people that [must be certain] their kids must either not be going home to [them] or ensure that they don't run out of medications. For diabetics, ensure you have enough medications, your glucometre, and strips for the glucometre,” he said.
Dr Sittol added: “The advice should also stand for patients at risk for developing heart disease. Exercise; a healthy, well-balanced diet; weight loss for those overweight/obese are key for all young people too. Many find out about their heart disease after years of unhealthy habits. This kind of living is a sort of long-term investment in your health, but I cannot underscore enough the importance of getting vaccinated.”