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Half of Gib’s population ‘has high blood pressure’

There are currently 15,000 people diagnosed with hypertension in Gibraltar, making it the most common medical condition on the Rock.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a medical condition in which blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated.

Although there are usually no tell-tale symptoms it is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

Lifestyle changes and diet can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of health complications.

The statistic was announced within the most recent Gibraltar Health Authority Board report, which highlighted the objectives of the hypertension clinic.

The GHA is currently managing clinics to screen and advise patients with hypertension, but the number attending is growing.

“The modern western diet and lifestyle is one of the most important and potentially modifiable risk factors that most patients and many doctors ignore,” the report read.

“For this reason it is easier to accept medication other than adopt healthy life style changes. Although it takes a lot of work to change our lifestyle, the potential rewards are great; therefore as health professionals we must raise awareness and make this our goal and objective.”

The Primary Care Centre has set out objectives, outlined in the report to promote health education and prevent secondary effects.

The aims are to increase the detection and treatment of undiagnosed hypertension through routine screening and to ensure that patients taking antihypertensive drugs are controlled to optimal blood pressure levels.

Health Promotion Officer Daya Dewfall advises people take care of themselves through diet and general lifestyle changes.

“Globally hypertension is common and very often there is no identifiable reason for the condition,” Mrs Dewfall said.

“”Lifestyle is crucial as has a big part to play in regulating blood pressure. Patients should avoid fast food and salt, and instead exercise more.”

She advised people can prevent hypertension by avoiding red meats and watching how they eat.

“High blood pressure can put increased pressure on the heart leading to heart disease,” she said.

Prolonged high blood pressure can also cause damage to other organs such as the brain, kidney and eyes.

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