The free blood pressure checks offered on Saturday 5 October at New World, showed that of 117 tests, 13 percent had high blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke, so that information could have been life-saving.
“We advise that people ask their doctor or pharmacist for a regular check, as well as advice about the changes they could make to reduce their risk of having a stroke. It is also important that those with high blood pressure take their medication as prescribed by the doctor,” said Julia Rout, Health and Promotions Manager at the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand.
The Stroke Foundation’s Big Blood Pressure Check had a positive impact throughout October, having tested over 13,500 New Zealanders for high blood pressure. However, figures show that over the last three years, those that were referred to a GP for a high blood pressure reading has significantly increased. This can be partly attributed to the Stroke Foundation’s strategy to target more at risk communities.
Rout explained, “high blood pressure doesn’t have any symptoms, so having an annual check is incredibly important, much like a car warrant of fitness. High blood pressure can be managed and controlled, which is why getting a regular check is important to reduce stroke and other health risks.”
The Stroke Foundation encourages everyone over the age of 45 to have an annual blood pressure check. “The chances of having high blood pressure increases with age, so our aging population could be fuelling the trend to some extent. While we can’t change our age, there are many risk factors we can change such as eating as eating less processed foods, being more active and smoke-free. High blood pressure is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’, as it usually doesn’t have any symptoms and often goes unnoticed. As well as getting a regular blood pressure check, we encourage people to get advice from a health professional; eat less salt; eat mostly fresh ‘whole’ foods; be smoke free; move more; keep alcohol intake low; manage stress levels and if required, take blood pressure lowering medication,” said Rout.
Lately there has been a recent shift about how a good diet should be, with more attention to the risks of an intense animal-based diet, to which the Stroke’s Foundations seems to agree. “We suggest that people eat mostly fresh unprocessed food, not too much and mainly plants to maintain good health, not just a healthy blood pressure. The good news is, it’s also good for the planet,” confirmed Rout. Having a check can help to remind that “prevention is better than cure”.