Novocastrians are being urged to take the critical step in reducing their risk of stroke by arranging a blood pressure check at their local pharmacy this month.

In total, 4.7 million Australians are living with uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Each May, the Stroke Foundation promotes the importance of blood pressure checking as part of Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check campaign, coinciding with World Hypertension Day on May 17.  

Hypertension or high blood pressure is the greatest modifiable risk factor for strokes, and a quick blood pressure check can be all it takes for someone to change their lifestyle and reduce their risk of stroke.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sharon McGowan, said high blood pressure often went undiagnosed as it had no immediate symptoms.

“In my first year as CEO of Stroke Foundation, by participating in Australia’s biggest blood pressure check campaign, I discovered that I had high blood pressure,” McGowan said.

“My blood pressure is now controlled, but it could have been a very different outcome.”

She said that over time high blood pressure put extra stress on blood vessel walls and caused them to narrow or break down, eventually leading to a stroke. 

“One of the things we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that people are keen and able to manage their risk of exposure to illness,” McGowan said.

“We want to apply that mindset to stroke prevention. 

“When 80 per cent of all strokes are preventable, why would you not want to know your risk?”  

In total, 4.7 million Australians are living with uncontrolled high blood pressure.

A normal blood pressure measurement is described as around 120 over 80mmHg.

A measurement of 140 over 90mmHg is regarded as high blood pressure and puts a person at increased risk of stroke, no matter what age.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s National President, Professor Trent Twomey, said community pharmacies were the most accessible health professionals.

“Most pharmacies provide this service because we recognise just how important keeping an eye on your blood pressure is,” Professor Twomey said. 

“A blood pressure check can give an early warning of the dangers of a stroke.”

Novocastrians can visit and find a pharmacy nearby that provides blood pressure monitoring services.

Some pharmacies include Pharmacy Care Marketown in Newcastle West, Darby Street Day-Night Chemist, Bagga’s Pharmacy and City Pharmacy in Newcastle, Pharmacy Care in Cooks Hill, TerryWhite Chemmart and Pharmacy 4 Less in The Junction, Merewether Pharmacy and Piggotts Pharmacy in Merewether, TerryWhite Chemmart, Priceline Pharmacy and Piggotts Pharmacy in Hamilton.

Hayley McMahon

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