Stroke Foundation wants to remind Australians that blood pressure checks save lives. Everyone is being urged to get a blood pressure check at their local pharmacy this month as the key step in reducing their risk of stroke.
Each May, Stroke Foundation promotes the importance of blood pressure checking as part of Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check campaign. It coincides with World Hypertension Day on May 17.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the greatest modifiable risk factor for stroke. A quick and painless blood pressure check can be all it takes for someone to change their lifestyle and reduce their stroke risk.
Too late to act when symptoms emerge
Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan says high blood pressure often goes undiagnosed as it has no immediate symptoms. Over time it puts extra stress on blood vessel walls and can cause them to narrow or break down, eventually leading to a stroke.
She says a staggering 4.7 million Australians are living with uncontrolled high blood pressure, and many don’t realise it. A normal blood pressure measurement is described as around 120 over 80mmHg.
A measurement of 140 over 90mmHg is regarded as high blood pressure and puts you at increased risk of stroke, no matter what your age.
‘In my first year as CEO of Stroke Foundation, by participating in Australia’s biggest blood pressure check campaign, I discovered that I had high blood pressure. Thanks to our very own awareness campaign, my blood pressure is now controlled but it could have been a very different outcome,’ said Ms McGowan.
‘If there is one thing that we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that people are keen and able to manage their risk of exposure to illness. We want to apply that mindset to stroke prevention.
‘When 80 per cent of all strokes are preventable, why would you not want to know your risk?’
Easy to check
Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s National President Trent Twomey says community pharmacies are the most accessible health professionals, so it’s easy for people to get a blood pressure check.
‘Most pharmacies provide this service because we recognise just how important keeping an eye on your blood pressure is,’ said Professor Twomey.
‘A blood pressure check can give an early warning of the dangers of a stroke. I recommend people go to the findapharmacy.com.au website where they can find a pharmacy near them which provides blood pressure monitoring services,’ he said.
You can find more information on the link between high blood pressure and strokes here.