Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia yet 90% of premature heart disease is preventable through early identification and management of modifiable risk factors.

In this article we look at one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke in Australia – High Blood Pressure.

When left untreated, high blood pressure significantly increases your chance of heart attack or stroke as it puts a strain on your heart and blood vessels.


What should my blood pressure be?

To minimise my risk of heart disease you should aim to have a blood pressure below 120/80. Regular readings of above 140/90 mean that you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

What is blood pressure?

Your blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in your blood vessels and is a combination of two measurements, systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

The top number is your systolic blood pressure, this measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts. Pushing oxygenated blood around your body.

The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure when your heart muscle relaxes between beats.

How should I measure my blood pressure?

High blood pressure often is silent, meaning that there are no warning signs or symptoms to alert you to check your blood pressure.

You should therefore aim to check your blood pressure regularly, at least once a year. A doctor, nurse or pharmacist can check your blood pressure for you.

Or if you’d prefer you can check your blood pressure at home using a validated machine and keeping a note of your readings in this handy – BP diary.

What should I do if I have high blood pressure?

Your doctor might start you on some medications to help reduce your blood pressure, often they will aim to get your blood pressure to below 120/80, but this target will depend on your individual circumstances.

Your doctor might also ask you to look at lifestyle factors that are known to increase your blood pressure:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Not smoking
  • Eating a balanced healthy diet
  • Moderating your alcohol intake

When was the last time you checked your blood pressure?

Small changes keep your heart healthy, book in with your GP for a heart health check so that you can understand your future risk.