Easing the pressure

National Heart Week is a good opportunity to conduct blood pressure checks and talk to patients about hypertension

The event runs from 30 April to 6 May, and this year’s focus is on the importance of diagnosing and treating high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is responsible for more deaths and disease worldwide than any other single health risk factor.

It is a major risk factor for chronic diseases including stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

High blood pressure is primarily defined as:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or more, or
  • Diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or more.

In 2012–13, 6 million Australians (34%) aged 18 years and over were hypertensive, as defined by blood pressure ≥140/90 mmHg, or were taking antihypertensive medication.

Of these, more than 4.1 million (68%) had uncontrolled or untreated hypertension.

Infographic by AJP.

“Heart Week is an ideal time for pharmacists to talk to patients about blood pressure and do checks,” says the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

“The event is an opportunity for pharmacists to ensure patients understand the importance of having blood pressure checks and how to manage their high blood pressure for a healthy heart.”

Lifestyle advice is recommended for all patients with hypertension, says the Heart Foundation.

Trials using lifestyle interventions in patients with hypertension have shown reductions in blood pressure and a reduction in combined cardiovascular events and total mortality.

Read the Heart Foundation’s Guideline for the diagnosis and management of hypertension in adults 2016.

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