The Heart Smart Centre in Montego Bay, St James on Thursday, September 29 provided heart disease screening for residents, including free electrocardiogram tests for the first 20 registered patients, as part of its observance of the globally celebrated World Heart Day.
From as early as 9 a.m., youthful and elderly patients alike waited to be seen at the Heart Smart Centre’s office at the GWest Medical and Surgery Centre in Montego Bay’s Fairview business complex, eager to find out whether they would get clean bills of heart-health or get recommendations for further tests and screening.
In addition to having their hearts examined, patients also got to check their body weight and body mass index, blood pressure, and blood sugar as part of their overall wellness checks.
Zoie Porter, one of the first 20 patients, who were provided the screening free of cost, praised the Heart Smart Centre for hosting the health fair.
“I think it is a good initiative, because it helps you to know the status of your heart. You might be getting up every day and going about your daily business, and you’re getting no signal that anything is happening to you,” said 67-year-old Porter. “If you come to these health fairs, you can know what is going on with you, and you can take it from there by following up with your doctor and then you can live a healthy lifestyle, and I made sure to get the free check-up because I am a health freak.”
KIND AND PROFESSIONAL
Angela Eccleston, another patient who came for her heart check-up at the health fair, said that her screening process was positive due to the relative swiftness of the procedure and the staff members’ kind and professional attitude during each segment of testing.
“I was just passing by and I saw the persons here, and I was wondering what it was about. When I heard about what was going on, I said that there is nothing wrong in getting checked,” said Eccleston. “The wait was not long at all, as I got through quickly, and thank God my heart is normal. Everybody was kind and courteous, and you could chit-chat with them while going through the checks.”
The Heart Smart Centre’s health fair was held at a time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that over 17 million people worldwide die from cardiovascular disease each year, to include heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease.
Dr Claudine Lewis, a licensed cardiologist and the overseer of the Heart Smart Centre, told The Gleaner that approximately 20 per cent of Jamaicans have heart-related issues, many of which are linked to high blood pressure and diabetes.
“From the statistics that we have, it would be 20 per cent of the population that has heart issues, and most heart-related disease is driven by high blood pressure. That is why we try to focus on high blood pressure as a screening measure, because out of the population, about 20 to 25 per cent of all Jamaicans have high blood pressure,” said Lewis.
“There is a common misconception that persons will feel sick or get a headache to know that their pressure is high, but most of the time people have high blood pressure and they do not know. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the main risk factors for heart disease, and diabetes is considered to be a coronary heart disease equivalent,” Lewis added.