keeps tabs on blood pressure

There is a silent killer among us. It may be pushing through your veins, contributing to major health issues that can cut life short in an instant.

High blood pressure is a deadly condition and many people suffering from it may be totally unaware of its dangerous and potentially fatal risks to their health.


This is why the Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART) in the Faculty of Health Sciences is doing its part to promote blood pressure awareness and measurement.


During the whole of May Measurement Month (MMM) and on World Hypertension Day on 17 May, HART supported the various screening and awareness projects that were held on the NWU’s campuses and in the surrounding communities.


The aim was to encourage members of the general public to have their blood pressure measured, free of charge.


The activities started on 1 and 2 May with the #ProPotch NWU extreme challenge weekend at Lekwena Wildlife Estate, and continued with various blood pressure screenings in public places in and around Potchefstroom in mid-May.


Similar screenings will be done in Mahikeng and in the Vanderbijlpark area, depending on how the current Covid-19 situation develops.


A leading cause of death


Prof Carina Mels, director of HART, says the dangers of hypertension should never be under-estimated. “In South Africa, non-communicable diseases, to which hypertension is a major contributor, are now one of the leading causes of death and disability.”


Carina says blood pressure statistics are only released every four years and new statistics have yet to be released.


“However, previous statistics clearly showed that a staggering 34,6% of people who get tested during the hypertension awareness projects were found to have hypertension.”


She says that a massive 56,7% of those whose screening revealed high blood pressure were totally unaware that they had problems in this regard.


“What is even more concerning is that only 49,2% of people suffering from high blood pressure were receiving antihypertensive medication.” Carina says the proportion of those who already received treatment for blood pressure was only 28,3%.


Prof Carina Mels, director of the Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART), says they are proud to be part of May Measurement Month in South Africa. She believes repeated screening programmes are needed in South Africa to increase hypertension awareness.


Click on the audio clip below to listen to her message.


More about May Measurement Month


2021 is the fourth year in which the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) has presented the worldwide May Measurement Month, a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of high blood pressure.


Hypertension has no noticeable symptoms and blood pressure measurement is the only accurate way of identifying it. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, ISH has decided to continue the campaign for blood pressure measurement beyond May until the end of November.


For more information about further screening projects, please contact Prof Carina Mels, director of HART.