Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, is urging persons to pay attention to their heart health as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the country.
The call comes in light of statistics, which indicate that just under 60 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths in Jamaica have occurred in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Dr Tufton said that data as at January 25 indicate that 198 of the 339 persons who have died, were found to have had some form of cardiovascular condition.
The Minister was speaking at the virtual launch of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) Heart Month 2021 on Thursday.
The month is being observed under the theme ‘Check Your Heart, Be COVID Smart’ and was chosen against the background of recent findings that indicate a direct link between heart disease and COVID-19.
Dr Tufton, in expressing concern, noted that persons with non-communicable diseases (NCD), including cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, as well as those who have had or are at risk for a heart attack or stroke, are at higher risk of death and severe illness from COVID-19.
He said that this is compounded by the fact that the pandemic has disrupted access to routine care for NCDs.
Citing a World Health Organization (WHO) rapid assessment on the impact of the pandemic on NCD services, involving 163 countries, he noted that 77 per cent reported disruption in NCD activities while 75 per cent reported a disruption in NCD services.
Dr Tufton said that statistics from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III (2016-2017), show that the risk factors for hypertension continue to increase in Jamaicans 15 years and older.
The survey showed that 82 per cent of Jamaicans engaged in little to no physical activity, 29 per cent were found to be obese, 25 per cent were overweight, 18 per cent were affected by high cholesterol, 14 per cent were engaged in tobacco use and eight per cent practised harmful use of alcohol.