New CTO Appointment
Economics of Going Green
State of Caribbean Media
Passport to Paradise
Death Sentence in 2 Years
Priest Thinks Twice
Charges & CounterCharges
Communication in Tourism
Moves to Oust Savarin
WIBC Settles with Gregory
UWP Leadership Question
Threat to State College?
Why Marpin Was Rejected
Sanford Now In Barbados
Hotels Threaten Shutdown
Urban Baron to Cross Floor
Lestrade & Stabilisation
Urban Baron Did Not Cross
PM Charles Tightens Grip
Search for New President
Tension at N.D.C.
New Independent Party?
AT & T in Dominica
Curtis Matthiew - DFP?
Sonia Williams - Indep...
SARS in Toronto, Canada
Bobby - Independent?
Casino Gambling Begins
Formal Opening of DSC
End of Douglas Dynasty?
Wage Bill Cut
DLP Want Theodore Fired
DFP Virtually Dead
PM's Fiscal Adjustment
Dr Etienne to PAHO
Relations with China?
Sam Raphael Resigns
Tour de Dominica Politics
PJ on Independence
Politics 25 Years Later
Cure For Aids Mooted
DSS Stymied by IMF
New Development at CTO
The Silent Killer
Grenada & Hurricane Ivan
Regional Tourism Security
Making Millions on Haitians
UWP Falling Apart
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Hypertension The “Silent Killer”
Tuesday, Aug 03, 2004 - The disease known as the “silent killer” is killing more Dominicans than any other chronic disease with an average of one death every five days or so, much to the consternation of health and medical professionals.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is still one of the commonest chronic diseases in Dominica today, Dr. Gerard Grell, an expert on hypertension told The Sun.
“It is the commonest contribution to death in the island,” Dr. Grell said while revealing that the condition, caused by the elevation of a person’s blood pressure, is responsible for a large number heart attacks and strokes among Dominicans.
“It is a disease where the high blood pressure puts tremendous stress on the heart which, over time, gets so large that it fails to function and the patient gets into cardiac arrest,” Dr. Grell explains in a description that fits almost finest detail, how Prime Minister Rosie Douglas died in 2000.
“If the pressure exerts its influence on the brain… getting the patient to develop a stroke,” he continued.
According to HeartCenterOnline, a cardiovascular specialized health care site on the Internet, high blood pressure is a condition commonly associated with narrowing of the arteries. It causes blood to be pumped with excessive force against the artery walls and is a sign that the heart and blood vessels are being overworked.
“Untreated, high blood pressure will cause the heart to eventually overwork itself to the point where serious damage can occur… Hypertensive patients are also at increased risk of heart disease and stroke,” the health care site states, emphasizing Dr. Grell’s point.
Not only are Dominicans dying from heart related diseases and strokes triggered by hypertension, Dr. Grell stated, but an alarmingly increasing number of persons are suffering from kidney ailments caused by the chronic disease.
“Many of the patients who require dialysis at the hospital had hypertension and did not manage it properly over a long time,” he said.
Figures obtained from the central statistical office indicate that in 2000, the last year for which numbers are available, indicated that there were 76 hypertensive deaths in Dominica, down from 110 or one death every three days or so, the previous year.
In fact, between 1990 and 2000, according to the central statistical office figures, 913 Dominicans died from hypertension and, with the odd exception, the numbers have been rising steadily each year.
Equally startling figures indicate that since 1995 the number of reported cases of hypertension have been growing at a rapid rate. In 1995, there were 75 reported cases, a 60.7 per cent drop from the 191 cases in 1993. However, according to the central statistical office, the number of cases had almost doubled by 1997 to 140 and had reached 266 in 2000, the last year for which figures are available.
According to Dr. Grell, anywhere from one in three to three in 10 Dominicans over the age of 50 are hypertensive. He blames people’s changing lifestyles of “eating hamburgers and fries and not exercising” for the worrying trend.
“One of the things about hypertension is as countries become more developed and more westernised, diets change (and) hypertension becomes more common,” the Dominica doctor told The Sun. “Once you are a western country like we are, your lifestyles is more north American, it puts our people at the same kind of risks as if they were living in the US or the UK.”
High blood pressure is a major health problem in the United States, where more than 50 million people over age six (and 1 in 4 adults) have the condition, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Blacks are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) than white people or other racial groups. Although researchers do not know the exact reason for this finding, they point out that African Americans tend to have an unusually high number of risk factors for high blood pressure, HeartCenterOnline states. These risk factors include diabetes, high stress levels and salt sensitivity.
Dr. Grell advised people with high blood pressure to consider lifestyle changes, undergo regular medical checks and stick to the prescribed drug therapy.
“I don’t know if you can prevent anything in life… But if you manage it properly, you may escape the consequences of the disease,” he said of the disease for which there is no known cure.
Even those who do not suffer from the chronic disease should watch how they live, he advised.
“(They must) find time to exercise, find time to distress, find time to enjoy themselves.”
Lifestyle considerations with high blood pressure
People with high blood pressure should avoid certain activities and situations that may raise their heart rates and blood pressure to dangerous levels. These include the following:
It is very important for hypertensives to limit the amount of time spent in these activities to less than 10 minutes, after which they should sit down out of the heat for a few minutes before standing to minimize the risk of dizziness or passing out (syncope).
Hypertensives must also be careful about using certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications that contain vasoconstrictors, which can elevate blood pressure. Such medications include:
Hypertensives are also encouraged to follow all of their physician’s orders regarding treatment, in order to prevent serious health consequences. However, patients are encouraged to discuss with their physicians any side effects or other concerns that they may have about their treatment.