Heart health in the time of COVID-19


    While the world continues to deal with COVID-19, it is important that Filipinos keep an eye on their heart health.

    In the Philippines, over seven million population is unaware that they have hypertension. It could affect anyone of any age, with 55 percent of Filipinos aged 60 to 69 living with the condition.

    Under the new normal, there are several options for care and support available for patients with non-COVID-19 diseases like hypertension.

    “Filipinos with high blood pressure must take into account their heart health despite quarantine restrictions – the healthcare community is coming together to offer different solutions and there are many things that patients themselves can do at home to manage their hypertension, said Dr. Deborah David-Ona, clinical associate professor at the Division of Hypertension, Department of Medicine of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital.

    Telemedicine, which makes use of technology to deliver care at a distance, is also gaining ground and is becoming even more relevant now in the new normal. “Telemedicine is very convenient for patients – if they are hesitant to go to the hospital to visit their doctor or are restricted to their homes, telemedicine is a great option of care for them,” Ona added.

    At home, hypertensive patients can do more to manage their blood pressure or lower their risk for hypertension. Ona explained that Pinoys should be wary of what they subject their bodies to.

    “A lot of people indulge in comfort food and some vices while stuck at home. Tobacco use, unhealthy diet, obesity, physical inactivity, and too much alcohol are risk factors for hypertension,” she said, noting these should be avoided to keep blood pressure levels normal.

    The Philippine Society of Hypertension, where Ona also serves as vice president, is partnering with Upjohn Philippines and major drugstores to raise awareness on hypertension through the “Ang Stroke, Hindi Joke!” campaign which aims to educate Filipinos on preventing stroke by managing hypertension.

    Melissa Comia, Upjohn general manager, said their company is driven by its mission to relieve the burden of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and stroke.

    “Our work with the Philippine Society of Hypertension in leading the conversation on these cardiovascular diseases through this campaign is just among the many steps we are taking to help educate the public on heart health,” Comia also said.