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Stroke Foundation is urging Australians to make a healthy start to the year by getting a blood pressure check.

Professor Bruce Campbell, Stroke Foundation’s Clinical Council Chair, said having your blood pressure checked was easy, painless and potentially life-saving, but was too often overlooked.

‘The new year is a time for resolutions and a fresh start for many,’ he said.

‘This year, rather than jumping straight into long-term health goals like getting fit or losing a few kilos, start with a blood pressure check at your doctor or pharmacy.

‘It’s like checking your car is in good working order before a big road trip,’ said Professor Campbell.

Hypertension risks

High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is a key risk factor for stroke, but it can be treated.

Latest Stroke Foundation figures revealed more than 4.7 million Australians were living with high blood pressure, and most don’t even know they have it.

Professor Campbell said the only way to know if you have high blood pressure was to have it checked regularly.

‘High blood pressure has no immediate symptoms. Yet over time it puts extra stress on blood vessel walls. This can cause them to narrow or break down, eventually leading to a stroke,’ he said.

‘High blood pressure is also a risk for other cardiovascular conditions and increases the risk of death from the coronavirus (COVID-19).’

Stroke is a major risk with high blood pressure.

How to manage it

While high blood pressure can impact people of all ages, it can be managed through medication, minimising salt intake and living a healthy, active lifestyle.

‘Research has shown the number of strokes would be almost cut in half if high blood pressure alone was eliminated,’ said Professor Campbell.

‘Give yourself the best chance possible to live a healthy life in 2021 and beyond,’ he said. ‘Learn about your risk and continue to monitor your blood pressure regularly.’