Call to bring blood pressure management into the 21st century

The Heart Foundation and The George Institute for Global Health say it is time for clinical practice to align with 21st century research findings according to a paper delivered at the Heart Foundation Conference in Adelaide today.

The paper given by Professor Vlado Perkovic, Executive Director of The George Institute, Australia, states that with more than one quarter of Australian adults having hypertension, or colloquially, high blood pressure it’s time that clinical practice caught up with 21st century research.

“The approach to blood pressure management at the moment is based on 20th century notions of ‘hypertension’ as a disease, rather than blood pressure as a risk factor for cardiovascular events,” Professor Perkovic said.

“Doctors and patients have become complacent about blood pressure. Despite years of publications advocating a risk-based approach, this has not been widely adopted in clinical practice, and vast amounts of GP and specialist time are spent adjusting various agents in ways unlikely to make a significant difference to health.  A simpler, more effective and more streamlined approach is required,” Dr Perkovic said.

In light of this, the Heart Foundation in partnership with The George Institute are calling for an evidence-based, 21st century approach that ensures that all patients who will benefit from blood pressure lowering receive proven treatments, which will improve outcomes for individuals, and could massively reduce costs across the Australian health care system.

Dr Rob Grenfell, National Heart Foundation Director of Cardiovascular Health said high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, such as a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure or kidney disease.

“High blood pressure is often called the ‘silent killer’, because there are no symptoms or signs of high blood pressure and it has been identified as the world’s leading health risk by the Global Burden of Disease Study, published in The Lancet in December - you can have high blood pressure and feel well,” Dr Grenfell said.

“With millions of Australians walking around unknowingly that they have a ticking time bomb in their chests its time that clinical practice catches up to the latest research in order to adequately treat patients according to the world’s best practice standards,” Dr Grenfell said.

“There’s no firm rule about what defines high blood pressure, but most people should aim for a reading of less than 120/80,” Dr Grenfell added.
The Heart Foundation and The George Institute for Global Health will be working towards closing the disconnect between research in the area and clinical practice.

Heart Foundation Media Contact
Julia Power, NSW Media and Communications Manager, 0478 313 656