World Hypertension Day (17 May 2024)

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), encompassing conditions like stroke, heart or blood vessel disease, remains the leading cause of death in Australia, claiming a life every 12 minutes and is often referred to as a silent killer.

In Australia, high blood pressure is still the primary contributing factor for preventable deaths, resulting in more than 25,000 deaths each year. A key problem is that most people are totally unaware of whether their blood pressure is a risk factor for them. SiSU Health’s data reveals that 63% of people haven’t had their blood pressure checked in the last 12 months.

This was the case for Federal Labor Senator for Victoria, Raff Ciccone, who like many fit and healthy people find out something is wrong when there is a problem. Senator Ciccone was working at Parliament House in Canberra when he became dizzy and required medical assistance.

Unfortunately, Senator Ciccone’s experience is how most people discover they have a cardiovascular issue, and sadly some with life-changing consequences. This is why Senator Ciccone is now advocating for more people to understand their risk factors by having a quick and simple blood pressure check.

“I was in the Senate chamber in 2022 when I began feeling ill,” Senator Ciccone said.

“Thankfully, with the help of the nurse at Parliament, I was able to get the help I needed. I had my blood pressure measured, which had reached a dangerously high level.

“I then visited by local GP and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I’m now taking daily medication to ensure my blood pressure remains within a normal level and regularly visit my GP for checks.

“I’m spreading the word to encourage everyone to get their blood pressure checked – it’s a simple test.”In an effort to combat Australia’s concerning rate of uncontrolled blood pressure, the National Hypertension Taskforce has been established through a partnership between the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA) and Hypertension Australia.

This cross-sector collaboration aims to address the challenges posed by hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, and includes participation from patients, general practitioners, practice nurses, pharmacists, specialists, the research community, and peak bodies such as the Stroke Foundation.

Professor Markus Schlaich, President of Hypertension Australia and Co-Lead of the National Hypertension Taskforce talks about the importance of understanding your blood pressure.

“High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for death in Australia and around the world, resulting in 10.8 million deaths annually. In Australia, raised blood pressure is responsible for 43% of coronary heart disease, 41% of stroke, 38% of chronic kidney disease, and 32% of atrial fibrillation and flutter. One in 3 adults in Australia has hypertension, but only half of them are aware of it. For this reason World Hypertension Day is an important reminder for everyone to get their blood pressure checked.”

According to Professor Alta Schutte, Co-Chair of the National Hypertension Taskforce, ACvA Company Secretary and leading expert in Cardiovascular Medicine at The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Sydney, the importance of regular blood pressure checks is key to improve awareness. “The problem with high blood pressure is, that is has no symptoms. If we don’t measure it, we don’t know that we are a very high risk for stroke, heart attack, dementia and kidney disease.,” Professor Schutte stated. “This has prompted a call to action from experts to address this highly treatable public health problem. We have the necessary tools to identify and treat blood pressure, and it is imperative that we use them. Please go to your GP or nearest pharmacy to get your blood pressure checked.”

Hypertension can be effectively controlled through a healthy lifestyle (fruit and vegetables, exercise, healthy weight) and medication. However, using blood pressure medication is no proof that blood pressure is lowered sufficiently. It should be checked to determine if the medication should be adjusted.

SiSU Health makes it as easy as possible for people to understand their basic risk factors for cardiovascular disease and take their blood pressure. The SiSU Health Stations are located in convenient high footfall locations such as pharmacies, they are self service and offer a quick, easy and free way to understand your cardiovascular and metabolic health risk indicators including blood pressure, heart rate, weight, height, and diabetes risk. 

Results will be available on the spot via the SiSU Health mobile app serving as a valuable tool to raise awareness about susceptibility to heart disease. The app will also provide prompts for individuals with high blood pressure or a high body mass index to consult with their GP.

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