Pressure is on to prioritise heart health for Australians unknowingly suffering with high blood pressure
A nationwide effort to measure the blood pressure of as many Australians as possible in one week has found that almost 15 percent 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 percent 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
- Find out your heart age using our 3-minute Heart Age Calculator https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/heart-age-calculator
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.