Under pressure

According to a study conducted by the University of Western Australia, 50 percent of people living with high blood pressure do not know they have it.

Chair in Clinical Research at the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation and the University of Western Australia Professor Markus Schlaich Dobney said high blood pressure is a common condition. 

“It is a very common condition around a third of the adults in Australia as well as in many other countries have elevated blood pressure.”

He said it can be hard to tell if you have high blood pressure, so recommended being tested by a doctor. 

“That is the unfortunate thing about elevated blood pressure very frequently it does not cause any specific symptoms.”

“Some people sometimes complain of headaches, feeling tired, having no energy, blurred vision, perhaps pounding of the heart here and there, but all of these symptoms can have multiple causes.”

 Barbara Parks who suffers from blood pressure said there were no symptoms to indicate she had the condition.

“ I was at the doctors for a prescription and he routinely just took my blood pressure and it was through the roof, we were both shocked because I didn’t have any symptoms.” 

Professor Markus Schlaich said it is a very serious problem because it can lead to other health issues.

“We know high blood pressure is the most important risk factor for strokes and it also very important in regard to heart attacks and kidney failure.”

“We estimate that more than 50 percent of all the strokes we see are directly associated with uncontrolled blood pressure.”

Barbara Parks said she is on medication to keep it under control, but it can be impacted by stress.

“Recently at the workplace I had a bit of a confrontation and my blood pressure shot up to 187 on 110.”

The Dobney Hypertension Centre is in charge of conducting research and clinical trials to find out more about high blood pressure. 

Photos of staff from the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation in Perth. Photo: Ross Swanborough

Professor Markus Schlaich said the fight against blood pressure is global.

“In 19 countries worldwide we offer free blood pressure screens.

“Last year in 2018 we had 1.5 million people come in to have their blood pressure measured.” 

He said the treatment of high blood pressure starts with lifestyle changes. 

“If people are overweight or obese, we give them advice how to lose the weight.”

He said this doesn’t always help all people and in that case, they have a number of drugs that are very safe.

“We have guidelines of which drugs to use in which situations and in the vast majority of patients we can control the blood pressure with one or two pills. 

Barbara Parks said it is reasonably stable to manage. 

“I still have to monitor it like every couple of days I check it.

“Sometimes there is random factors that throw it out again.”

Professor Schlaich says throughout the whole month of May there will be free blood pressure checks.

“Everybody should know their numbers if they know their numbers only then they will know if they have hypertension and then you can do something about it.”