Medics urge the public to check blood pressure
Mary Ann Benitez
One in four people over the age of 40 has hypertension, which can lead to serious illness, the Hospital Authority says.
A community survey conducted by the authority last year and released yesterday showed 27.6 per cent of people over 40 had not checked their blood pressure in the previous 12 months.
Nearly $1 billion is spent and at least 300,000 bed days incurred treating patients with serious diseases caused by hypertension, such as stroke and heart disease, the authority said.
People were not aware of the importance of regular blood pressure checks, said Vivian Wong Taam Chi-woon, the authority's director of professional service and medical development.
'There are no noticeable symptoms for hypertension. The only way to find out is to measure blood pressure regularly,' she said.
People over 30 are encouraged to have their blood pressure checked each year, she said.
The authority launched its Hypertension Awareness Programme yesterday to encourage more private general practitioners to offer free blood-pressure measurements to patients.
Eighty GPs have signed up for the month-long programme, along with 100 community centres.
People with hypertension should seek advice from family doctors as soon as possible. Controlling high blood pressure could help reduce the chances of diseases, Dr Wong said.
Stroke cases admitted to hospitals rose 31 per cent, to 28,600, last year, from 21,900 patients in 1997.
The authority said patients with a history of hypertension were six times more likely to have a heart attack than individuals with normal blood pressure. About 58 per cent of stroke victims had hypertension.
The World Health Organisation has said half of all hypertension patients do not even realise they have the condition.