Alarming! Cardiologist concerned about the increase in hypertension cases in Jamaica

Consultant Cardiologist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and the University Hospital of the West Indies, Dr Handel Emery, is concerned about the number of hypertension cases in Jamaica.

Consultant Cardiologist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Dr Handel Emery, is expressing concern at the increasing prevalence of hypertension in Jamaica.                                  

Citing the results of the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III (2016-2017), a survey which is conducted every 10 years, he said that the increase is alarming.                               

“On the basis of a number of surveys which have been done in the past…we’ve seen where the prevalence or the frequency of the condition in the population has increased from about 25 to 26 per cent to about 1 in 3 currently,” he added.                        

Dr Emery, who is also a Consultant Cardiologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies and Associate Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, said this is of grave concern, because of the impact of hypertension on morbidity (illness) and mortality (death).

“The condition in the population has increased from about 25 to 26 per cent to about 1 in 3 currently.”

— Dr Emery

“We know that hypertension translates into patients dying. In fact, it is recognised as a major cause of mortality globally,” he said.

He pointed out, however, that it is treatable and that it is important for persons to get screened so that treatment can begin as early as possible.

“We have very effective means of screening for hypertension. There are specific guidelines in terms of how frequently patients should be screened and, very importantly, in our context we have excellent options in terms of therapists,” he informed.                                

According to Dr Emery, there are about seven classes of anti-hypertensive medications that are currently available, and almost all of them are available locally.