A nationwide effort to measure the blood pressure of as many Australians as possible in one week has found that almost 15 per cent had high blood pressure, placing them at an increased risk of heart disease over coming years.
The new data gathered during last week’s Heart Week came from more than 6,000 people who had their blood pressure checked for free at a SiSU Health Station in Priceline pharmacies across the nation, as part of a partnership between SiSU Health and the Heart Foundation.
Data showed that two thirds of people who had their check at a SiSU Health Station had never had their blood pressure checked before – a worrying statistic for the Heart Foundation.
Of concern was also the link between high blood pressure and diabetes risk, where almost 60 per cent of people with high blood pressure also recorded a high-risk of diabetes (also known as a high AUSDRISK score; calculated by the Australian Type 2 diabetes risk assessment tool), which is another risk factor for heart disease.
Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to irreversible blood vessel damage, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure often occurs alongside other hidden risk factors for heart disease, reinforcing the need for holistic and regular Heart Health Checks by your GP where your 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 or older
- There are no obvious signs or symptoms if you’re suffering from high blood pressure, so the only way to find out if you have it is to have it checked regularly – even if you’re feeling well and healthy
- Get your blood pressure measured at least every two years; you can get your blood pressure checked at your GP, local pharmacy, SiSU Health Station or via a validated machine at home.
If you are 35 years or older
If you are 45 years or older (or from 30 years for First Nations people)
- See your GP for a Medicare-subsidised Heart Health Check, a routine 20-minute check-up with a GP to assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
- As part of a Heart Health Check, your doctor will ask you about your medical and family history of heart disease as well as your lifestyle, including your diet, physical activity, if you smoke or drink alcohol and whether you have a healthy weight. Your GP will also check your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Your GP will use this information to estimate your risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next five years. More importantly, your GP will discuss the steps you can take to lower your risk.
Quotes attributable to David Lloyd, CEO Heart Foundation:
"It’s been great to partner with a genuinely innovative company in SiSU Health during Heart Week to see how we can help more Australians regularly measure and better understand their blood pressure.
“In Australia, having high blood pressure contributes to 50 per cent of the burden of Coronary Heart Disease.
“An incredible one in three Australian adults suffers high blood pressure – that’s 6.8 million people.
“It’s great to know that the team at SiSU Health shares our passion for reducing heart disease in Australia, and we look forward to future opportunities to partner them.”
We're excited to have partnered 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 PhD, Managing Director, SiSU Health
- Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on 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 – is when your blood pressure is consistently higher than normal; the threshold for high blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg.
- Your blood pressure will go up and down naturally throughout the day, with your blood pressure going up temporarily due to stress, your emotional state, recent physical activity, caffeine consumption and even talking.
- High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease; almost half (45.5 per cent) of all cardiovascular disease (CVD) events are attributed to high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure contributes to more death and disability worldwide than any other risk factor.
- Blood pressure can be measured at home using a validated machine, at a Priceline pharmacy via a SiSU Health Station, by a doctor or nurse during your next doctor’s appointment and via a Heart Health Check.
- For further information on 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 a heart attack or stroke by determining their heart age.
- It is designed for people aged 35 to 75 years who do not have heart disease or have not previously had a heart attack or stroke.
- The Calculator uses well-known risk factors for heart disease (e.g. age, sex, blood pressure, cholesterol) to estimate your risk of heart attack or stroke compared to a defined healthy range.