The echoes of World Stroke Day may have faded, but the urgency to address the insidious threat of stroke reverberates louder than ever. In Singapore, the rate of hypertension has nearly doubled since 2010, with over a third of the population now grappling with high blood pressure, a significant factor amplifying the risk of stroke. Notably, addressing modifiable risk factors — including smoking, dietary choices, physical activity, and hypertension — can prevent up to 90% of these life-altering strokes, with high blood pressure emerging as the primary contributor to stroke risk.
It is important to recognise that hypertension is often a ‘silent killer,’ lurking without apparent symptoms, thus emphasising the vital importance of regular blood pressure monitoring. Recent research by OMRON Healthcare has demonstrated the effectiveness of home blood pressure monitoring, revealing an average improvement of 10mmHg in Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) within 12 months among hypertensive individuals with a baseline SBP of 135mmHg or higher who regularly tracked their readings.
In the realm of blood pressure management, home blood pressure monitoring and in-clinic measurements play distinct yet complementary roles. In-clinic measurements usually provide a single snapshot of blood pressure at a specific moment, and while they are essential for professional evaluation, home monitoring offers significant benefits. It empowers individuals to monitor their blood pressure consistently over an extended period, allowing for the calculation of average blood pressure values, which can provide a more reliable assessment of overall blood pressure control. As such, we are seeing doctors increasingly ask patients to monitor their blood pressures at home, enabling prompt intervention and facilitating early diagnosis, management strategies, lifestyle adjustments, and, when necessary, medication.
The frequency of blood pressure monitoring should be tailored to individual circumstances, taking into account factors such as whether one has been diagnosed with hypertension and how frequently blood pressure tends to fluctuate. Therefore, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable when establishing a monitoring routine. In general, however, measuring blood pressure twice a day — upon waking in the morning and before sleeping in the evening — is recommended. To establish trends and minimise variables, it is also advisable to measure at the same time each day.
At OMRON Healthcare, our commitment to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health is deeply rooted in our “Going for Zero” vision. We actively contribute to this pledge by introducing innovative and accessible tools, such as our latest offering, the Stroke Risk Calculator. By continuously tracking and updating blood pressure readings over time, individuals can gain a comprehensive understanding of their stroke risk profile, which includes 5-year and 10-year stroke risk projections, relative risk assessments, identification of specific risk factors, and actionable advice for risk reduction.
While World Stroke Day may have passed, the imperative to combat stroke and its chief enabler, hypertension, remains ever-present. The combination of regular blood pressure monitoring and utilisation of the Stroke Risk Calculator stands as pivotal steps in effectively tackling the growing disease burden and escalating healthcare costs associated with hypertension and stroke. Equipped with insights and the right tools, individuals can take informed steps to manage and mitigate their stroke risk, finding motivation to embrace healthier lifestyle choices. Together, the world can work towards a future where strokes are less frequent, and the threat of hypertension diminishes, ensuring healthier lives for all.
Contributed by Alexis En, Director, Marketing & Digital Health, OMRON Healthcare Singapore
Images: OMRON Healthcare Singapore