It’s a potential minefield!
This is how Chief Executive Officer of The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados (HSFB) Gina Pitts has described a trend of young, school aged children, presenting to doctors with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“We have on our Board of Directors Professor Anne St John who, as you know, is a pediatrician and she is rasing some concerns about high blood pressure and high cholesterol in children,” Pitts said.
“So that is the next generation that is having the potential for having earlier heart attacks and strokes because of their high cholesterol and high blood pressure below the age of ten. So we are basically sitting on a minefield of what is going to happen in the next ten to 15 years,” she warned.
Pitts was speaking to the media as the Foundation announced activities to observe World Heart Day on September 29.
While she was especially concerned about the heart health of the very young, the foundation’s CEO also expressed worry about those under the age of 55, men especially, whom she said were at more risk of having heart attacks.
“That is quite concerning for us. Here, [at the HSFB] our youngest member in our cardiac rehabilitation unit who has had a stroke, was 24 and children can have strokes as well, but often that is more congenital rather than because of a cardiovascular issue that you would see in later ages,” Pitts added.
She also identified obesity as another area of concern in Barbados where there are approximately 14 heart attacks recorded every month – one every other day – and about three strokes every two days.
Of the problem of obesity, she said: “It is accepted now, as opposed to being frowned on as it probably was ten, 20 years ago. So we’re dealing with a different society; we’re dealing with greater exposure to Westernized culture and society as well . . . on our television and radio and in our print media and in our social media and therefore as a culture, we’re changing I think, but not necessarily for the better.”
Pitts noted that Barbadians are at high risk for strokes and heart attacks, with nearly one in five persons having high blood pressure and an expected two-thirds of women projected to be clinically obese by 2025.
Among the plans for World Heart Day later this month are a Heart And Stroke Walk And Run with a health expo on Saturday, September 27; The Pedal For A Purpose Bike Ride the following day; and the launch of Yoga Heartflow on September 29.