Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to affect millions of people globally, hypertension remains to be the biggest contributing risk factor to global death.
More alarmingly, high blood pressure (BP) remains to be number one in terms of preventable cause of premature deaths in the Philippines.
Deaths related to hypertension in the Philippines reached 14,488 or 2.38 percent of total deaths, according to 2018 World Health Organization data. Hypertension-related diabetes is among the leading causes of mortality in the country, and hypertension will likely continue to be a great health risk factor, with prevalence rate to shoot up from 26 percent to 29 percent of the global population by 2025. What is worse is that hypertension is among the common comorbidities for COVID-19.
A recent Philippine Statistics Authority report showed that the top killers in 2020 were related to hypertension such as heart and cerebro-vascular diseases, and diabetes, not Covid-19. The number of fatalities related to heart disease and diabetes also exceeded their averages in the last five years.
What is the Philippines doing to address this?
While the figures are alarming, awareness, treatment and control of hypertension in the country remain relatively low. This is why the Philippine Society of Hypertension (PSH), composed mostly of internist-cardiologists, nephrologists, endocrinologists, neurologists, obstetrician-gynecologists, pediatricians, occupational and family physicians and practitioners from other medical disciplines concerned with the diagnosis, management, treatment, and prevention of hypertension, will restart its annual May Measurement Month (MMM) campaign this year with a new execution approach.
Canceled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 situation across the globe, the MMM 2021 has been reimagined to remain relevant to the healthcare industry’s present status by pushing for home blood pressure monitoring.
For this endeavor, the PSH partnered with the local government of Manila, medical equipment for monitoring and therapy provider OMRON, and other organizations to ensure the campaign’s success amid the pandemic.
The International Society of Hypertension (ISH) made some changes to this year’s MMM 2021 to meet its objectives and yet comply with existing safety protocols implemented in participating countries. The campaign is usually held on World Hypertension Day, which is observed every May 17, but was extended and will run starting May 1 up to November 30.
“Aside from the extension of the campaign period, we are putting in place measures to ensure that we are promoting awareness not just about hypertension but overall public health as well. This means making sure that throughout the campaign, our volunteers, partners and participants can join without worrying about their safety and wellness,” shared Dr. Alejandro Diaz, MMM 2021 country lead.
For this year, the campaign focuses on encouraging people participation by monitoring their blood pressure at home. The captured data can be logged at the MMM official website or the MMM mobile app. Screening sites will also still be established in key locations, as approved by the Department of Health.
The city government of Manila through the Mayor’s office also threw its support to PSH and the campaign’s cause by supporting the launch as well as the actual submission process of captured data from onsite screening efforts. OMRON, the official equipment partner for MMM since 2017, pledged more than 1,000 BP monitors to support MMM 2021.
“We want our fellow Filipinos to be mindful of the symptoms of hypertension as they prioritize their health during these challenging times. Filipinos of all ages and across all backgrounds are susceptible to high blood pressure. The adverse effects of hypertension is what PSH and MMM are rallying to prevent,” shared PSH President Dr. Deborah Ona.
Healthy heart at home
As home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) is a major component of the campaign during the pandemic, PSH is also rolling out reminders on the proper method of taking blood pressure readings. Clinically validated BP monitors are key tools for capturing accurate readings and better data tracking instead of manual monitors.
For his part, Yusuke Kato, General Manager for OMRON Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. – Philippine Branch (Healthcare Division), said the PSH’s goal is a reflection of OMRON’s commitment, which is to improve lives and contribute to a better society. “As we aim to remain safe at home, now is an opportune time to be more aware of our overall physical health. We hope MMM 2021 will be the catalyst to making home blood pressure monitoring a routine that Filipinos can comfortably integrate in their daily lives.”
Aside from raising awareness about hypertension, PSH is also pushing for improved BP screening facilities and healthcare systems in the country. The campaign aims to reduce the global burden of disease and death caused by high blood pressure. In the past three years, people from more than 100 countries have been screened as part of the largest free public blood pressure screening program in the world.
Visit May Measurement Month 2021 at www.maymeasure.org, or the PSH website https://www.philippinesocietyofhypertension.org.ph.