High blood pressure remains the leading risk factor for heart disease and when uncontrolled can lead to a heart attack, stroke or kidney disease.

Close to 6 million Australians aged 18 years and over have high blood pressure (>140/90 mmHg). Of these, close to 4 million people (68%) have uncontrolled or unmanaged high blood pressure.

In general, males are more likely to have hypertension than females, except for between the ages of 45 and 64, when females are at equal risk to males.

Factors that have been identified in the Australian 2008 National Heart Foundation Hypertension Guidelines include:

– Sedentary lifestyle
– Smoking
– Waist measurement > 94 cm in men and 80 cm in women, BMI > 25
– High dietary salt intake, and
– Alcohol consumption

Because high blood pressure has very few symptoms, most people are unaware that they have a problem. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure tested. Understanding your blood pressure numbers is key to controlling high blood pressure.