Over 110,000 males enrolled with NHF for hypertension

Sunday, June 17, 2018

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HYPERTENSION, known to many Jamaicans as high blood pressure or simply “pressure”, is one of the leading non-communicable diseases in the population.

An estimated 116,442 men are currently enrolled in the National Health Fund's (NHF) database, for hypertension. In fact, the NHF has paid out approximately $412 million between the period of April 2017 to April 2018 in subsidies for hypertension for males enrolled.

Statistics worldwide have shown that, compared to their female counterparts, men do not readily visit the doctor for regular check-ups and pay little or no attention to their health. This is a major cause for concern, especially as it relates to hypertension, which is silent, but can be deadly, as individuals often live with the disease for years without knowing.

What Is hypertension?

According to the World Health Organization, hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure.

Blood vessels (arteries), though extremely tiny, transport blood from the heart to all parts of the body. Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into these vessels. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels as it is pumped by the heart.

The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump.

Causes and detection

Though hypertension can occur in younger individuals, the instances are more common in men over the age of 45.

As the years climb, so do the risks associated with the condition.

There are many factors that can lead to hypertension, which include, but are not limited to:

• Genetics – studies show hypertension tends to run in families

• Consuming too much salt

• Consuming too much alcohol

• Too much stress

• Too little physical activity

• Being overweight

The test to diagnose hypertension is simple and pain-free, so men who are fearful about going to the doctor have nothing to worry about.

Hypertension is diagnosed using a blood pressure testing device which sees a cuff being wrapped around the arm and inflated so sensors can measure the pressure of blood beating against the blood vessels.

Tips for reducing hypertension risks

• Men who drink alcohol are encouraged to consume no more than two (or less) drinks a day.

• A change in diet is essential, especially for men who are enthusiastic meat eaters. It is recommended that there be a reduction in salt intake and an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

• Lifestyle changes, including increased physical activity and a better stress management system should also be adapted.

There is a phrase which states “Prevention is better than cure,” which holds true in all aspects of maintaining good health. It is advisable that men take responsibility for their health by not only visiting their doctor for regular check-ups, but take the initiative towards preventing the complications that are associated with hypertension.

For men who have been diagnosed with the chronic disease, they can apply for a National Health Fund card, they must first complete an NHF application form, which can be picked up at several locations islandwide, including hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies, or the NHF's head office in Kingston.

After the form is signed by a doctor and the patient has filled out the relevant sections, the completed application form should be mailed or taken to the NHF's office for processing. Holders of the card stand to benefit from reduced costs for medication at more than 400 NHF participating pharmacies islandwide.

This article was contributed by the National Health Fund, which is aimed at providing funding for specified health care benefits, health promotion, health projects, and pharmacy services in a sustainable, efficient and customer-centric environment.

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