Hypertension, Covid-19 and your Community Pharmacist

Media Statement from the Independent Community Pharmacy Association of South Africa (ICPA) on Hypertension, Covid-19 and your Community Pharmacist

Hypertension, Covid-19 and your Community Pharmacist


The lifting of the state of disaster restrictions might give us the notion that the pandemic is over – this is far from true. As South Africa enters the 5th wave of Covid-19 we urge everyone to be mindful of the risks of Covid-19, especially people who have hypertension.

“If you have hypertension or high blood pressure, it’s important to take extra care to protect yourself from Covid-19. There is a possibility that having uncontrolled high blood pressure might put you at greater risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19” says Jackie Maimin, CEO of the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that 1.28 billion adults have hypertension, of, which less than half are diagnosed and treated (48%) and only 1 in 5 adults (21%) with hypertension have it under control. Shockingly, an estimated 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a serious medical condition that significantly increases the risks of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. Untreated hypertension can result in many complications, such as heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.
Hypertension is generally known as a “silent killer” and many people won’t notice any symptoms until it is severe.

Quick tips to help you control hypertension:

  • Regularly measure your blood pressure
  • Keep a daily journal of your blood pressure readings.
  • Reduce your salt intake to 1 teaspoon a day, taking into consideration that there may be hidden salts in the food you eat such as processed meats, fish, sauces, and frozen or pre-packaged foods.
  • Exercise regularly – at least 30 mins of brisk walking daily or if it is not possible to walk, do some home exercises.
  • Quit smoking and avoid all forms of tobacco. If you are struggling to quit smoking, contact a community pharmacy close to you and ask for help.
  • Avoid overconsumption of alcohol – do not exceed one drink per day.
  • RELAX: Learn some methods to cope with stress where possible.

Hypertension Medication adherence:
Medicine is extremely important when managing hypertension and should be a priority for anyone with hypertension. Here are some tips to stay on track with your medication:

  • Take your medication as instructed – the details of when and how to take medication are important.
  • Take the medication at the same time every day as prescribed by your physician.
  • Do not stop taking or change your medication without consulting your pharmacist or physician.
  • Set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to take medication at a set time.
  • If you miss a day of taking your medication, take note of this and what caused this. If you can change something in your lifestyle to remember to take your medication then do so.
  • If you travel often or have breakfast at the office, get a pillbox and make sure it’s filled up so you can keep your medication with you.
  • Once a week, review your medication stock. Set a monthly reminder in your calendar to refill your script so you don’t fall behind.

Your relationship with your pharmacist:
Your pharmacist is here to help you stay on track with much more than script refills. Community pharmacists are highly qualified, experienced healthcare professionals who are easy to access and chat with. Take advantage of this opportunity to build a relationship with your pharmacist who can help you control your hypertension and overall health.

If you notice that your blood pressure is fluctuating or outside of the normal range (120/80), keep a diary of how often these fluctuations occur. Sharing this information with your pharmacist is extremely important. “If your pharmacist is kept informed about your health, they can help you according to your personal unique needs,” says Maimin. Pharmacists are friendly, and full of useful knowledge – you can gain a lot by having a strong relationship with your community pharmacist.

ICPA Pharmacies are open for extended hours and do not require appointments – you can walk in and have a chat with a pharmacist at any time. You are always welcome to get a health screening done at a community pharmacy near you for hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol and so much more.

Lastly, as well as controlling your blood pressure remember that Covid-19 vaccination is the best possible way to prevent serious complications from Covid. Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date and that you have had your boosters.

Looking for more information about managing your hypertension? Visit the South African Hypertension Society website for resources.

About ICPA

ICPA (Independent Community Pharmacy Association) is an organization which provides independent community pharmacies with a collective strength and a coherent voice that is heard by government, medical schemes, pharmaceutical suppliers and importantly, the consumer.

ICPA represents one of the largest pools of professionals in the healthcare sector with over 1 200 pharmacies, about 3 500 pharmacists and 20 000 supportive healthcare personnel spread across metropolitan, urban and rural South Africa.

The objective of ICPA is to assist and support its members in securing a sustainable and successful future as independent, owner-managed pharmacies.
In addition to this, the ICPA strives to foster an understanding of the role that independent pharmacies can (and do) play in delivering important healthcare services to the communities that they serve. All ICPA members are committed to high-quality pharmacist care and to the restoration and maintenance of the health and well-being of the consumer – the lifeblood of all pharmacies.

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