High blood pressure contributes to more death and disability worldwide than any other risk factor, according to new research published in The Lancet.
The Global Burden of Disease Study, which involved nearly 500 researchers in 50 countries, calculated the impact on health caused by more than forty different risk factors from smoking to poor sanitation.
“Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, which this study has also shown to be the leading cause of premature death in Australasia,” said Dr Robert Grenfell, National Cardiovascular Health Director at the Heart Foundation.
“One in three Australians aged 30-65 have been told by a doctor they have high blood pressure – that’s 3.5 million people.
“The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to ask your GP for a check up as there are no obvious signs or symptoms,” Dr Grenfell said.
The study also looked at risk factors by region and identified high body mass index, smoking and high blood pressure as having the most impact in Australasia.
“The top three risk factors in Australasia are all contributing to heart disease as well as a range of other conditions,” Dr Grenfell added.
“This adds even more evidence to an already overwhelming case for a national action plan to improve early detection and management of heart, stroke and blood vessel disease.
“Investing in the comprehensive measures recommended by the Heart Foundation will save lives, reduce government costs and ease the strain on hospitals.
“It would also reduce the incidence of other diseases, including diabetes and many common cancers,” Dr Grenfell added.
The Heart Foundation’s suggested action plan includes 11 proposals aimed at tackling heart disease including:
• health checks in general practice to detect people at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease
• reduction of salt and saturated fat levels in commonly eaten foods thorough an expansion of the Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue
• active travel strategy to encourage walking, cycling and public transport use
For more information on keeping your heart healthy, including information on how the heart works, the effect of cholesterol and eating for heart health, as well as some useful videos and tools, see Heart Health.