Heart Week 2017 – 30 April to 6 May

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Heart Week 2017  |  30 April – 6 May

 

Each year the Australian Heart Foundation shines a light on heart health through their Heart Week promotion. This year the focus is on diagnosing and treating high blood pressure. Keen to lend their support to Heart Week, Ochre Health clinics are promoting blood pressure awareness and encouraging patients aged between 35 – 74 to talk to their doctor about a cardiovascular risk assessment.

If you are not sure exactly what a cardiovascular risk assessment is, or want to know more about blood pressure, the following frequently asked questions may be of interest.

What is a cardiovascular risk assessment?

This is an individual heart risk assessment that weighs up a number of different factors. Along with a blood pressure check, the assessment helps to build a risk profile, based on factors such as your age, gender, cholesterol levels, smoking, family history and past history.

What exactly is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as the heart pumps it around your body. It’s a vital part of how your heart and circulation work.

Your blood pressure naturally goes up and down all the time, adjusting to your heart’s needs depending on what you are doing. High blood pressure is when your blood pressure is persistently higher than normal. The medical term for high blood pressure over an extended period of time is ‘hypertension’.

Why should I have my blood pressure checked?

Blood pressure that’s high over a long while (hypertension) is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. As you get older, the chances of having persistently high blood pressure increases. It’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly, and if it’s persistently high then it needs to be controlled. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or stroke. It may also affect your kidneys. Having your blood pressure checked is a simple and painless procedure.

What do the numbers mean?

 Two numbers come up in a blood pressure test. The first number is your systolic blood pressure; it’s the highest pressure reached as your heart beats and pushes the blood round your body. The second number is your diastolic blood pressure, which is the lowest pressure and occurs when your heart relaxes between beats.

A blood pressure reading under 120/80mmHg is considered optimal. Readings over 120/80mmHg and up to 139/89mmHg are in the normal to high normal range.

Your doctor will be happy to talk to you about these numbers in more detail.

Can the numbers be lowered if they’re high?

The good news is you can reduce your blood pressure if it’s too high. Your Ochre Health GP can work with you on a plan to bring the numbers down. A plan may include a change in diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

Currently, heart disease is the highest cause of death in Australia. So, this Heart Week get your blood pressure checked, know your results and take action if your numbers are high.

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