23 May 2017

S5M-05136 World Hypertension Month

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-05136, in the name of Maree Todd, on May 2017—world hypertension month. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes that May 2017 marks World Hypertension Month; understands that this awareness month will highlight this silent condition, which is a preventable cause of stroke and heart disease, and provide information regarding its prevention, detection and treatment; notes that it is estimated to cause around nine million deaths globally each year; understands that 30% of adults in Scotland have high blood pressure, half of whom are not receiving treatment, and that 70,860 people in the Highlands and Islands region are living with the condition, and acknowledges and welcomes the work of Professor Rhian Touyz, of the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Glasgow, which aims to understand the causes of hypertension.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

Like other members, I thank Maree Todd for the opportunity to discuss something that is probably of interest to every one of us, with regard either to ourselves individually or to a family member.

I am not a regular reader of Hypertension News, but in the February 2017 edition I read about the objective of screening the blood pressure of 25 million people in May. I advise the chamber that I have made my little contribution to that, with the very helpful co-operation of my MSP colleague Emma Harper. Earlier today she had her sphygmomanometer and her stethoscope at the ready, and she took my blood pressure. It was not good news, but I had just come up the stairs and had not yet sat down and done my calming down. My blood pressure was 158 over 70, which is okay on the diastolic and a wee bit high on the systolic, and a wee bit higher than the previous time that I had it checked, when it was 130 over 75, which is kind of where I would like to be. However, I am going to go away and think about this salt business. I might even give up drinking for a couple of days. There are things that each of us can do.

There are a lot of quite interesting articles in Hypertension News. For example, there was an article about a slim and quite fit 54-year-old German lady whose systolic blood pressure is regularly over 300 and whose diastolic blood pressure is in the 170 to 180 range. She is quite healthy, but the drugs have stopped working for her. That is one illustration among many that each hypertensive person is likely to be individual and to require individual attention.

Hypertension News has also talked about a lot of work that has been done to identify DNA triggers that might create a predisposition to hypertension, or that one might address by resetting the DNA. It is fair to say that that has had almost no success whatsoever. It has been suggested that only 1 millimetre of mercury of blood pressure, which is but nothing—it is beyond clinical measurement accuracy—is attributable to DNA. Therefore, we do not know why hypertension happens, which is quite worrying in light of the number of people that it affects. We should continue to support the efforts of the British Heart Foundation and others to research conditions that adversely affect the heart. I know from the reading that I have done, at least today, that we know much less than I thought that we knew, and that is a bit concerning.

My hobby is family research. I have read more than 2,000 death certificates in my family tree, and am relatively pleased that dying from heart failure has not been a major cause of death in my family, although strokes have been quite common in it. I will go away and have a think about that.

As a private pilot, I have an annual medical, which includes testing my blood pressure, testing my urine to see whether I am diabetic, testing my hearing and eyesight, and an electrocardiogram test. In nearly 30 years, I have had only a single ectopic heartbeat in my ECG, which is good news, but there has been a steady growth in my blood pressure. That will not be unusual.

I am going to think about my diet—maybe salt in particular. The association of diet and hypertension is quite well known, and it is relatively well known that the Mediterranean diet is not associated with hypertension. The really bad news this week is that there is an olive oil shortage because of weather conditions. I encourage colleagues to use Scottish extra virgin rapeseed oil, which is a good substitute for olive oil. People can get it in my constituency in the north-east of Scotland. Do not worry: we have the solution in the north-east, even if the Italians are letting the side down by not producing enough olive oil.

The subject is fascinating, and I am sure that it will run. I am interested in hearing what Mr Whittle in particular is going to say, because I know that he is very interested in it.


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