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NZers blood pressure still too high says Stroke Foundation

Stroke Foundation media release 6 September 2011

NZers blood pressure still too high says Stroke Foundation

Almost half of New Zealanders tested on Blood Pressure Awareness Day showed high blood pressure readings, revealed the Stroke Foundation today. The figures show there has been no improvement in blood pressure health since the last awareness day in September 2009.

Fraser Pettigrew, Communications Manager at the Stroke Foundation said: “It’s timely that during Stroke Awareness Week we can remind everyone that the risk from high blood pressure is more widespread than people might think. The general perception is that one in five people have high blood pressure but our results from two successive awareness days indicate that it could be more than double that.”

Around 14,000 people took advantage of free blood pressure tests provided by St John volunteers mainly at New World and Pak’n’Save supermarkets on 14 and 21 May this year. Among participants 46% had raised blood pressure readings: systolic readings of 140 mm Hg or above, diastolic readings of 90 or above, or both.

It was also a concern that there had been a fall in the number of people who had had a blood pressure test within the last 12 months (from 51% to 45%), and in those who could recall what their reading was (from 19% to 13%).

“Getting your blood pressure tested is one of the easiest things you can do to check on your health, and yet it seems as though fewer people are doing it,” added Fraser Pettigrew. “The message should be loud and clear: the next time you see your doctor - for whatever reason – get your blood pressure tested.”

Around a third of the nearly 8000 strokes which occur in New Zealand every year can be attributed to high blood pressure. People will not necessarily notice symptoms of high blood pressure which is why regular checking is recommended. High blood pressure can be treated by lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, smoking cessation, alcohol reduction) or medication where necessary.

Stroke Awareness Week runs from 5-11 September 2011.

ENDS

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