High rates of Hypertension & Diabetes with Montserratians are very concerning, says visiting Mt Sinai Hospital Team

Montserrat has a rate of hypertension and diabetes that is alarming says visiting specialists from the Mount Sinai Hospital.

During the one-week visit from the cardiologists and support staff from the Mount Sinai Heart Centre for Cardiovascular Disparities (MSHCCD) conducted blood pressure and diabetes screenings around Montserrat

The Ministry of Health hosted a five-person team from the Mount Sinai Heart Centre for Cardiovascular Disparities (MSHCCD) during the first week of August as part of its Visiting Specialists Programme. The team comprised of cardiologists Dr. Icilma Fergus-Rowe, Dr. Janice Scobie, and Dr. John Sumner; along with Navigation Consultant Nancy Thomas and Gilda Caputo-Hanson, Director of Community Outreach for the American Society for Hypertension.

During the week, the team conducted health screenings daily at the Glendon Hospital and also at various venues on island, including the health centres, government headquarters, and a grocery store.

Last Wednesday, a health screening and educational evening was held at the Montserrat Cultural Centre. During this session more than 30 people had their blood pressure and weight checked with many others sitting through the informative two-hour programme to discuss 2011 findings from the last specialists’ trip.

Native Montserratian Dr. Icilma Fergus-Rowe said of the 200 screened last year, 46.5% had High Blood Pressure (HBP) and 28% Diabetes. This, she noted was quite significant when compared with the numbers from similar screenings in New York which in 2010 & 2011 found 28.1% with HBP and 15% with Diabetes.; New Orleans in 2008 had 22.5% HBP and 17.2 % with Diabetes; San Francisco in 2009 19.1 % HBP and 8% with Diabetes.

The need to be proactive in dealing with these alarming figures is crucial, team members reiterated throughout the session.

Residents are being encouraged to know their numbers. BMI or Body Mass Index which is height to weight; their Blood Pressure figures with 120/80 as normal; their blood sugar and cholesterol counts as well.

Other advice shared included lowering instances of stress which can make your blood pressure go up; reduce alcohol intake, increase physical activity, and get family support for known conditions.

Montserrat’s Ministry of Health is very pleased with the outcome of the week and considered the intervention from the Mount Sinai cardiologist team as timely.

“We are taking on board all of their findings which support this year’s drive to encourage our people to be more physically active,” says Elijah Silcott, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health. “It was very productive and provided value for money. We are very appreciative of local Montserratian specialist, Dr. Fergus-Rowe who was able to come back and give back.”

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