A national effort to measure the blood pressure of as many Australians as possible in one week has found that nearly 15 per cent have high blood pressure, putting them at risk of heart disease over the coming years.
The new data collected during last week’s Heart Week came from more than 6,000 people who had their blood pressure checked for free at SiSU Health’s station at Priceline pharmacies nationwide, as part of a partnership between SiSU Health and the Heart Foundation.
The data showed that two-thirds of the people they screened at SiSU Health Station had never had their blood pressure checked before — a troubling statistic for the Heart Foundation.
Also of concern was the association between high blood pressure and diabetes risk, with nearly 60 percent of people with high blood pressure also scoring an elevated risk of diabetes (also known as an elevated AUSDRISK score; calculated by diabetes risk Type 2 Australian Assessment Tool), which is another risk factor for heart disease.
Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to irreversible damage to blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure often occurs alongside other hidden risk factors for heart disease, reinforcing the need for comprehensive and regular heart health check-ups by your GP in which blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels, and medical and family history are assessed.
Advice for Australians to help them take action is as follows:
If you are 18 years of age or older
- There are no obvious signs or symptoms if you have high blood pressure, so the only way to know if you have it is to get it checked regularly – even if you feel well.
- measure blood pressure at least every two years; You can have your blood pressure checked at your GP, local pharmacy, SiSU health station, or with a validated device at home.
If you are 35 years of age or older
If you are 45 or over (or over 30 for First Nations people)
- See your doctor for a Medicare-subsidized heart health check, a routine 20-minute check-up with a general practitioner to assess your risk of heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
- As part of a heart health exam, your doctor will ask you about your medical and family history of heart disease as well as your lifestyle, including your diet and physical activity, whether you smoke or drink alcohol and whether you have a healthy weight. Your doctor will also check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar.
- Your doctor will use this information to estimate your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years. Most importantly, your doctor will discuss steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Quotes attributed to David Lloyd, CEO of the Heart Foundation:
“It was great to partner with a truly innovative company at SiSU Health during Heart Week to see how we can help more Australians regularly measure and better understand their blood pressure.
In Australia, hypertension contributes to 50 per cent of the coronary heart disease burden.
One in three Australian adults has high blood pressure – that’s 6.8 million people.
“It’s great to know that the SiSU Health team shares our passion for reducing heart disease in Australia, and we look forward to future opportunities to partner with them.”
We are excited about our partnership with the Heart Foundation during Heart Week to help Australians measure their blood pressure and know their numbers, many for the first time. We look forward to future opportunities to partner again.”
Dr. Noel Duncan Ph.D., Managing Director, SiSU Health
- Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body.
- Your doctor will tell you what your ideal blood pressure should be, based on your medical history.
- High blood pressure — also called hypertension — occurs when blood pressure is consistently higher than normal; The lower limit for high blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg.
- Your blood pressure will naturally rise and fall throughout the day, with your blood pressure rising temporarily due to stress, your emotional state, recent physical activity, caffeine consumption, and even speaking.
- High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Almost half (45.5 percent) of all cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are attributed to high blood pressure.
- Hypertension contributes more to death and disability worldwide than any other risk factor.
- Blood pressure can be measured at home with a validated machine, at a Priceline pharmacy via the SiSU Health Station, by a doctor or nurse during your next doctor’s appointment and via a heart health check.
- For more information about blood pressure visit: www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/your-heart/blood-pressure-and-your-heart
Heart age calculator
- The Heart Age Calculator is a simple 3-minute online questionnaire that helps people understand their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by determining their heart age.
- It is designed for people between the ages of 35 and 75 who do not have heart disease or who have never had a heart attack or stroke.
- The calculator uses known risk factors for heart disease (such as age, gender, blood pressure, and cholesterol) to estimate your risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to a specified healthy range.