According to new figures, an unprecedented number of Australians have high blood pressure and thousands may be at risk of heart attack or strokes.
For the study researchers from Melbourne-based Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute looked at medical records of 532,050 patients who visited GPs between 2005 and 2010 and found 36 per cent, had high blood pressure. At least 250,000 patients did not meet individual blood pressure targets, placing them at risk of future heart attacks or strokes.
The organization said the study should kick-start new measures to curb high blood pressure. “Overall, these data reaffirm our concern that the number of people suffering from high blood pressure in Australia remains at historically high levels,” Baker IDI's Professor Simon Stewart said. “We can only hope that our study provides the impetus for an improvement in blood pressure levels leading to a reduction in highly preventable events such as heart attack and stroke.”
The study found more men than women suffered high blood pressure. Younger men, aged between 23 and 34, are said to be three times more likely to suffer from the problem than women in the same age group. The study found that taking medication for high blood pressure did not automatically mean patients were at lower risk of serious illness. Those with persistently high blood pressure also need to make lifestyle changes.
Baker IDI's research was funded by an unrestricted grant from drug firm Boehringer Ingelheim.