Raising awareness and promoting hypertension prevention, detection and control among Filipinos

Hypertension or elevated blood pressure (BP) is the leading cause of illness in the Philippines. More than 12-million Filipinos are hypertensive and more than half of them are unaware of their condition. Around 200,000 deaths in the country annually are caused by hypertension.

It is not clear what causes hypertension among adults but there are factors that can increase the risk of developing it. These include old age, family history, overweight or obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, heavy drinking, too much salt, stress, and chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.

In observance of World Hypertension Day, the Philippine Heart Association (PHA), the Philippine Society of Hypertension (PSH), and Pfizer have collaborated to raise awareness and promote hypertension prevention, detection and control among Filipinos, including measures they could take in their own homes. One of these is monitoring BP at home.

A simple tool for measuring BP, home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) is recommended to obtain reliable BP recordings because readings are taken in an environment that approximates one’s daily activities and exposures. Home blood pressure levels that are considered normal are <135mmHg systolic BP and <85mmHg diastolic BP.

According to Dr. Jorge Sison, PHA president, HBPM can predict occurrence of possible complications than clinic BP, and increases in BP levels in the morning as measured by HBPM is better able to predict prognosis than clinic BP.

HBPM may be recommended by doctors to provide them more information in understanding patients’ condition. High blood pressure can be detected easily and once you have it, you can take steps to control it.

HBPM has the potential to control hypertension. It has been validated as a reliable measure of BP that can help guide hypertension treatment.

It is recommended to use HBPM as a tool to diagnose hypertension. With a better understanding of a patient’s BP pattern, the opportunity to appropriately manage the patient is enhanced, thereby increasing the chance of achieving BP control and reduce occurrence of complications like stroke and heart attack.

Dr. Sison said HBPM is performed in the Philippines, but not routinely, and there are no published data on the use of HBPM in the country. It is currently used to investigate the status of BP control in patients with known hypertension who are taking treatment but with uncontrolled BP on follow-up.

Sison, however, said there are barriers to the use of HBPM which include the cost and availability of HBPM devices, with only around 25% of the population with hypertension currently having access to such devices. The lack of trust among patients regarding the accuracy of their digital BP devices is another hindrance.

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About the Author

REYNALDO “Rey” R. VICENTE’s career experience involves mostly research in publishing companies. He previously held the position of Research and Events Director of Media G8way Corp., publisher of Computerworld Philippines (CWP), PC World Philippines, and IT Resource. He also handled events organized for CWP. Prior to this, he was a Research Head of a business publication. Now as co-publisher of Zest Magazine, Rey also serves as Managing Editor. Rey finished his bachelor’s degree majoring in Economics at the University of Santo Tomas.

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