How do you know if you have hypertension or high blood pressure? Hypertension usually does not have symptoms, that is why it is called a silent killer. And the only way to know your blood pressure is to measure it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30 to 79 years worldwide have hypertension, most (or two-thirds) are living in low- and middle-income countries. Unfortunately only half or an estimated 46 percent of adults with hypertension remain unaware that they have the condition.
Hypertension is blood pressure that is higher than normal. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the country.
“Many people do not know what their blood pressure is. They know their weight, height, waist circumference but not their BP. Some do not even know what hypertension is,” said Dr. Alejandro Diaz, current Vice President of the Philippine Society of Hypertension (PSH).
The PSH is spearheading May Measurement Month (MMM) 2023 in the Philippines in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and OMRON Healthcare, a leader in the field of clinically proven, innovative medical equipment.
Launched in 2017, MMM was initiated worldwide by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) aimed at raising awareness of the importance of blood pressure measurement. It is the largest free high blood screening in the world. The campaign has screened about five million people in 100 countries. In the Philippines, a total of 736,376 persons participated since 2017.
The MMM aims to screen more Filipinos across more municipalities nationwide with the help of local health organizations and volunteers. The campaign, which kicked-off on May 17 in celebration of World Hypertension Day, will run until July 31, 2023.
The MMM 2023 campaign will also teach people about proper blood pressure monitoring to enable them to monitor their blood pressure accurately in the comfort of their own homes.
“Prior to the pandemic, BP screening was done physically in the following MMM screening sites—hospitals and clinics, schools, pharmacies, workplace, public area [outdoors], etc. During the pandemic, we innovated via Zoom. We took the opportunity of engaging our students, organizations, Rotary, and so many more. We were teaching our patients how to take their BP correctly, using a PSH validated device,” shared Dr. Diaz.
Home BP monitoring
This goal of raising awareness about proper blood pressure monitoring and promoting better health has been at the core of the MMM campaign since it started in 2017. This year, given the opportunities of the hybrid setup, the campaign has empowered people to measure their blood pressure through HBPMs (home BP monitoring).
“Our mantra is that an accurate measurement leads to a correct diagnosis of hypertension,” said Dr. Arnold Benjamin Mina, one of the members of the PSH Board of Trustees.
The doctors led by Dr. Diaz and Dr. Mina who were present during the kick-off last week at Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas gave tips and demonstrated how to get accurate blood pressure measurements using HBPMs.
How to take accurate BP measurementCorrect blood pressure measurement and interpretation is essential in the diagnosis and management of hypertension.
Dr. Mina shared information from the 2020 Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Hypertension in the Philippines and MMM’s own recommendations to help ensure accurate blood pressure monitoring at home and in other screening sites.
Use the correct cuff size. Put the cuff on bare arm. Blood pressure is measured on one arm only, preferably left. Cuff at heart level. Arm should rest comfortably on the table. The person should be seated with back supported, legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor. He should be instructed to empty the bladder before BP measurement. The participant should not have smoked immediately before or during the measurement.
“No exercise or coffee 30 minutes prior to checking your blood pressure. Do not talk during and between BP measurements,” added Dr. Mina.
Take three readings, each about one minute apart. Pulse/heart rate should also be recorded.
Dr. Diaz said one can take their blood pressure once in the morning and once in the evening, especially if strict BP monitoring is advised for that person or if one is taking a short acting antihypertensive medication. Record or jot down these readings in a BP diary and present them to the doctor during checkup.
White-coat, Masked Hypertension
Dr. Diaz and Dr. Mina also explained masked and white-coat hypertension. Masked hypertension is defined as a normal blood pressure reading in the clinic or doctor’s office, but an elevated BP out of the clinic. Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. Patients with masked hypertension are at risk of having uncontrolled high blood pressure thus the need to use HBPM for effective diagnosis.
On the other hand, white coat hypertension is when a person’s blood pressure at the clinic or health care provider’s office is higher than it is in other settings, such as at home. Patients who experience anxiety or stress over their doctor’s appointment may be at increased risk of developing white-coat hypertension.
Dr. Mina pointed out that one advantage of measuring BP at home is that the person is in his natural environment.
The main symptom for both of these conditions is unreliable blood pressure readings in the health care provider’s office or clinic. Patients with masked hypertension or white-coat condition often require special monitoring to ensure they receive the most accurate diagnosis.
“May Measure Month is an opportunity and a reminder for Filipinos to take charge of their health not just this summer but every day. We also hope it will encourage more Filipinos to learn more about the risks associated with hypertension. We want to raise awareness and promote new methods to spread awareness about this silent killer and help people make lifestyle changes that can lead to better heart health,” said Dr. Dolores Bonzon, PSH president.
A major component of the MMM campaign is a trusted and clinically validated home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM). OMRON Healthcare’s BPMs provide accurate data readings and ensure better data tracking to assist users in the proper monitoring of their blood pressure.
OMRON Healthcare’s blood pressure monitoring devices, in particular recent clinically validated ones HEM 7120 and HEM 7121, are equipped with a cuff wrapping guide to assist the user in properly fitting the arm cuff for an accurate and reliable blood pressure measurement. The products’ IntelliSense Technology automatically inflates the cuff to the optimal amount to provide precise results while still being comfortable. If the measured systolic or diastolic pressure is outside the standard range, the Hypertension Indicator feature sends a signal. These features are very important for obtaining reliable readings when blood pressure fluctuates.
An important part of MMM since it started, OMRON has donated more than 3,000 units locally and 23,000 units spread across various countries. For this year’s campaign, OMRON will provide 300 units.
“OMRON Healthcare remains committed to improving lives and contributing to a better society, especially since we have reached the 50th anniversary milestone of OMRON’s blood pressure monitors. OMRON has also transformed the way people measure blood pressure, making it simple and accurate for anybody, wherever in the world. Now more than ever, we have to be conscious of our general physical health. This year’s MMM will not just encourage Filipinos to integrate blood pressure monitoring in their lives to detect early signs of hypertension but also inspire them to make the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve better health,” said Yusuke Kato, general manager for OMRON Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd—Philippine Branch (Healthcare Division).
The MMM campaign is a call to action for all Filipinos to take control of their health and work toward a healthier future for themselves and their families. As the world shifts to the new normal, OMRON Healthcare will continue to work with other organizations to promote hypertension awareness and empower Filipinos to achieve better health and an improved quality of life.
For more information on May Measure Month 2023, visit www.maymeasure.org.