Bay blood pressure stats hardly skip a beat on charts

It would appear as though people’s blood very rarely boils in Nelson Mandela Bay – although even officials regard figures showing a remarkably low incidence of high blood pressure among residents as dubious.

Whether it is the proximity to the beach, the relative lack of traffic jams, the joys of living in the Friendly City or just a statistics error, the Department of Health has declared the Bay the place in the province where the fewest people struggle with high blood pressure.

With figures published in the department’s annual report indicating that fewer than one in 100 Bay residents are struggling with the chronic condition, even superintendent-general Thobile Mbengashe, a former Port Elizabeth general practitioner, seemed sceptical.

“The lowest hypertension incidence was said to be in Nelson Mandela Bay,” he wrote in his annual report.

This is in stark contrast to 2012 when the Bay was singled out in the District Health Barometer for its high prevalence of hypertension cases, measured to be about 40 per 1 000 – or four per 100.

Maybe it was because the latest statistics were gathered before the recent roadworks on the N2, but cardiologist Dr Tawanda Butau said the figure looked out of whack.

To put it in perspective, the metro’s rate of 9.1 people with hypertension out of every 1 000 is more than 50% less than the provincial average of 19.6 people per 1 000.

It is also more than three times lower than that of people in the Amathole District Municipality (30/1 000) and not even close to the second lowest count of 15.5/1 000 in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality.

Circular Health family nurse Melissa Leander was also dubious about the statistic.

“It seems like every second person [in the Bay] is on high blood pressure medication,” she said.

Klinicare Pharmacies boss Deon Schoeman said the statistic was not backed up by proof.

“And it sounds more to me as if it is bordering on sarcasm. It does not sound right at all,” he said.

Bay comedian Roland Gaspar had his own take on the issue.

“Are we lower? We’re definitely slower,” he said.

“Or maybe the distribution of stress medication is better here.”

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