Free blood pressure screenings offered

To mark the upcoming World Heart Day, the Heart Health Centre and Kirk Market have joined forces to offer free blood pressure screenings.

The free checks, which will be accompanied by an interactive nutrition display, will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday in the foyer of Kirk Market in George Town.

World Heart Day was created by the World Heart Federation to inform people that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year.

By 2030, it is expected that 23 million people will die from cardiovascular diseases annually.

World Heart Day officially takes place on Sept. 29 each year. At least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors – such tobacco use, unhealthy diet, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure – were addressed, according to the World Heart Federation.

“Take the road to a healthy heart is the theme for World Heart Day 2013,” said Jacqueline Ebanks, director of the Heart Health Centre. “Monitoring our blood pressure numbers and eating a healthy diet are two key action steps in the fight against heart disease. Kirk Market has enthusiastically embraced this message and we are pleased to partner with them.”

Recently published health statistics by the National Health Policy and Strategic Plan 2012-2017 revealed diseases of the circulatory system ranked as the No. 1 cause of death in the Cayman Islands. High blood pressure and diabetes, which are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, are the first and second most common health problems in the islands, respectively.

Andrea Hill, holistic nutrition educator for Kirk Market, will also be at the screening with an interactive product display focusing on foods which promote healthy blood pressure and tips for reading food labels to avoid hidden salt.

“Over 70 percent of the sodium in the average diet comes from the salt hidden in both restaurant and processed foods,” Ms Hill said. “Most people with high blood pressure assume that as long as they refrain from using the salt shaker that they are limiting the sodium in their diet.

“Unfortunately, this is not the case and a common misconception. Understanding what to look for on a food label is a great first step in improving dietary patterns and food choices.”