NACCHO Aboriginal Health : ” High blood pressure is a silent killer ” new Heart Foundation guidelines



High blood pressure is a silent killer because there are no obvious signs or symptoms, the only way to know is to ask your GP for regular check-ups.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the greatest preventable risk factors that contributes significantly to the cardiovascular disease burden.

The good news is that hypertension can be controlled through lifestyle modification and in more serious cases by blood pressure-lowering medications.”

Heart Foundation Chief Medical Advisor Prof Garry Jennings  said all Australians aged 18 years and over should have their blood pressure measured by a health professional at least every two years


“High blood pressure is an important risk factor for stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases. According to World Health Organization guidelines, a person is defined as having high blood pressure if their systolic or diastolic blood pressure is equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg.

The results below refer to measured blood pressure only, and do not include people who might otherwise have high blood pressure but are managing their condition through the use of blood pressure medications or other actions.”


In 2012–13, one in five (20%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people aged 18 years and over had measured high blood pressure.

Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men were significantly more likely than women to have recorded a high blood pressure reading (22% compared with 18%). Measured high blood pressure was significantly different for men and women in the 25–34 year age group (17% compared with 10%).

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with measured high blood pressure increased with age, ranging from 6% of 18–24 year olds to 37% of people aged 55 years and over.

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey:

Closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who experience and die from cardiovascular disease at much higher rates than other Australians. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when compared with other Australians, are:

  • 1.3 times as likely to have cardiovascular disease (1)
  • three times more likely to have a major coronary event, such as a heart attack (2)
  • more than twice as likely to die in hospital from coronary heart disease (2)
  • 19 times as likely to die from acute rheumatic fever and chronic rheumatic heart Disease (3)
  • more likely to smoke, have high blood pressure, be obese, have diabetes and have end-stage renal disease.(3)

From Heart Foundation website

New Hypertension Guidelines released by the National Heart Foundation today will provide healthcare professionals with the latest evidence when dealing with patients who have blood pressure.

Download Guidelines here

This latest guideline includes both a primary and secondary prevention focus on the contemporary management of hypertension in the context of an aging population with increasing complexities.

Heart Foundation Chief Medical Advisor Prof Garry Jennings said the Guideline differs from some other guidelines due to recent evidence outside the patient groups covered by the management of absolute cardiovascular risk (NVDPA, 2012) as well as information arising from new trials addressing blood pressure as a single risk factor in people with moderate or high risk measured using a variety of methods.

“This Guideline offers advice on new areas including out-of-clinic blood pressure measurement using ambulatory or home procedures, white-coat hypertension and blood pressure variability,” Prof Jennings said.

“A key difference is the new evidence for a target blood pressure of <120mmHg in some patient groups.

“There is a recommendation in certain high cardiovascular risk populations to aim for this lower target with close follow-up to identify adverse effects including low blood pressure symptoms such as fainting, electrolyte abnormalities and changes in kidney function.”

The new Guideline complements the current Absolute Risk Guidelines, addressing additional age groups, important comorbidities or target organ damage in hypertension that are known to increase risk.

“In these guidelines it has been necessary to make recommendations based on a lot of recent evidence on management of hypertension,” Prof Jennings said.

“There is no one size fits all approach when managing hypertension but these guidelines will help clinicians address some of the variables each individual patient provides.

“We know that GPs want as much certainty as possible to help personalise their approach to treating patients with hypertension.

“This new guideline will guide management of hypertension in Australia for the immediate future.”

The National Blood Pressure and Vascular Disease Advisory Committee, an expert committee of the National Heart Foundation, developed the new guideline.

Prof Jennings said committee members were selected based on their recognised expertise and included representatives from Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, National Stroke Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Hypertension Nurses Australia, National Prescribing Service Medicinewise and the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia.

The RACGP has recommended the Guideline for approval as an Accepted Clinical Resource.

Prof Jennings said all Australians aged 18 years and over should have their blood pressure measured by a health professional at least every two years.

Key statistics

  • One in three Australians aged 30-65 have been diagnosed by a GP with high blood pressure – that’s 3.5 million people
  • More than one in 10 Australians aged 30-65 (12%) have NOT had a blood pressure check in the last two years.
  • Heart Foundation estimates that more than 900,000 Australians aged 30-65 have high blood pressure or high cholesterol but don’t know it.



One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal Health : ” High blood pressure is a silent killer ” new Heart Foundation guidelines

  1. Medical professionals must also take responsibility for their actions.
    For 6 years a family member was concerned about their high blood pressure and the medication not reducing it to a healthy level. Repeated requests were ignored by a number of doctors. Perhaps because they presented as a youngish non-smoker, fit and hard-working, healthy weight range patient it was easier to ignore. Or, maybe it was some other reason, but with a diastolic continually above 100, and with patient concern, surely action should have been taken earlier.
    Finally, a doctor acted and with appropriate medication, blood pressure is within normal range.
    Doctors must also accept responsibility for their actions, or lack of actions.

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