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Monday, January 24, 2022

High blood pressure is a silent killer, but experts say Australia isn’t doing enough to fight it

Australia must not discount the dangers of high blood pressure, which is the leading cause of most deaths and illness in the country, a group of Australia’s leading experts have warned.

Although just over one in five adults – more than four million Australians – have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, the researchers found that many were not receiving proper treatment, and 50 percent of them were unaware of it.

“Blood pressure is the main cause of death. A lot of people don’t know about it, ”said lead author Alta Schutte, a fellow at the George Institute for Global Health and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of South Wales in Sydney.

“If you are not aware of it, then there is nothing you can do about it, so awareness is the first step.”

“Once this is covered, you can start treatment. […] When you treat people and their blood pressure does not drop enough, the treatment needs improvement. And there are different ways to do it. This is where there is a hole in Australia. “

Experts estimate that if all Australians living with high blood pressure received proper treatment, up to 83,000 lives could be saved, generating $ 91.6 billion in revenue. Even reducing high blood pressure by just a quarter could save 37,000 lives and return $ 34.3 billion to the economy.

But while high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for serious adverse outcomes such as coronary heart disease, stroke and dementia, the “top three killers” of Australians, Schutte said there does not seem to be a need to address the issue in the country.

“Increasing blood pressure should be at the center of the national health agenda, but instead the focus is now on better treatment of the diseases it causes.”

“In the United States last year […] The chief surgeon has issued a national call to action to improve blood pressure control, and here things are much worse and no one is doing anything. ”

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In Australia, high blood pressure is estimated to be the time bomb behind 43% of coronary heart disease, 41% of stroke, about a third of chronic kidney disease and atrial fibrillation, and just under 4% of dementia.

“While managing these conditions is undoubtedly important, serious public health impacts are likely to be achieved through increased awareness and screening for high blood pressure, and improved blood pressure control,” Schutte added.

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Human Services found that only a third of high blood pressure cases are under control, which means that more than two-thirds of Australians with high blood pressure have not been adequately treated. This situation has not improved over the past 10 years.

Epoch Times Photos
Proportion of persons with hypertension, 2017-18 (ABS)

Markus Schleich, President of the Australian Council for High Blood Pressure Research, has recommended a three-step roadmap to tackle the problem, including setting up a national blood pressure task force, prioritizing research funding and implementing various public awareness, prevention and screening interventions. …

“While the government’s recent announcement of $ 40.5 million in a new Medicare benefit schedule for 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure measurements to improve diagnosis of hypertension is a good start, we believe much more can be done to address this pressing health problem. – said Schleich.

“High blood pressure is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because most people show no symptoms,” said Professor Harry Jennings, chief medical adviser and interim CEO of the Heart Foundation.

“The good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled, but our data shows that 15 percent of Australians aged 45–74 have not had their blood pressure checked in the past two years,” he said.

Nina Nguyen

To follow

Nina Nguyen is a Sydney-based Vietnamese reporter specializing in Australian news. Contact her at [email protected]

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