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Hypertension expert on the importance of knowing your blood pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is an important risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular diseases which are among the leading causes of mortality in the Philippines. 

It is estimated that one out of every four Filipinos has high blood pressure. Yet, many hypertensive Pinoys, more than seven million of the population, remain unaware of their condition, as most cases do not display any symptoms.

“Left untreated, high blood pressure puts you at a significantly greater risk for developing stroke and other health problems that are far more physically and financially burdensome,” warns Dr. Deborah David-Ona, president of the Philippine Society of Hypertension (PSH) and clinical associate professor at the Division of Hypertension, Department of Medicine in University of the Philippines–Philippine General Hospital. 

Hypertension or high blood pressure is an important risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular diseases which are among the leading causes of mortality in the Philippines. 
Hypertension or high blood pressure is an important risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular diseases which are among the leading causes of mortality in the Philippines. 
According to Dr. David-Ona, the long-term or permanent effects of stroke range from body paralysis to speech problems and severe memory loss, with average hospitalization fees of at least P17,141.50 in public hospitals—higher in private healthcare institutions.

It also pays to know one’s status amid an ongoing health crisis, the doctor adds.

“At this time when the government is rolling out its COVID-19 vaccination program, it is important for hypertensive patients to ensure normal blood pressure prior to inoculation so that they can get vaccinated,” she says.

To identify whether a person’s at risk of hypertension, the medical expert identifies family history, other medical health conditions, and diet and lifestyle as risk factors. 

“Aside from genetic family history and other medical health conditions, it is primarily our lifestyle choices that increase our risk for high blood pressure such as unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and excessive smoking and drinking,” explains Dr. David- Ona. 

“But with the right lifestyle changes,” the doctor says, “hypertension can be avoided and, in patients with the condition, can be properly managed through lifestyle changes and proper intake of prescribed medication.”

She recommends patients to exercise more and adopt healthier eating and drinking habits regardless of age or health. She also emphasizes that having a heart-healthy diet of lesser fat and sodium, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and learning how to manage stress can greatly reduce risk of hypertension. 

The doctor is part of the “Ang Stroke, Hindi Joke!” education campaign of PSH and pharmaceutical company Viatris. 

“Through this campaign in partnership with PSH, we are helping educate Filipinos on why it’s important to know if they are hypertensive or at risk for hypertension,” says Viatris country manager Ester Tacanay. 

Dr. David-Ona seconds, “With the right information, medication, and medical supervision, we can save millions of lives. So it’s important to understand the risk factors and take action to keep your heart healthy, because ang stroke ay hindi joke.”

Topics: hypertension , high blood pressure , stroke , cardiovascular diseases
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