High Blood Pressure

Fresh Therapeutics Blog - High blood pressure (hypertension)Everyone has blood pressure. It is the pressure of blood against the walls of your blood vessels (or arteries) as the heart pumps blood around your body. Your blood pressure will increase and decrease depending on what you are doing. When you are exercising, nervous or stressed your blood pressure will increase and it will decrease when you are sitting or sleeping. High blood pressure is when your blood pressure is persistently higher than normal even at resting state (also known as hypertension).

According to Australian Health Survey, in 2011-12, almost one-third of all adult Australians had hypertension. Of these, almost half (48.8%) self-reported having a current and long-term heart or circulatory condition. Men were more likely to have hypertension than women. Hypertension was significantly more prevalent at older ages, with almost 9 in 10 people aged 85 years and over having hypertension.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Your blood pressure is recorded as two figures, for example 120 over 80 (120/80). The top number is the pressure in the arteries when the heart squeezes blood out during each beat. The lower number is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between each heartbeat. It is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed, and sitting or lying down. Readings over 120/80 mmHg and up to 139/89 mmHg are in the normal to high normal range.

  • A blood pressure reading under 120/80 mmHg is considered optimal.
  • Readings over 120/80 mmHg and up to 139/89 mmHg are in the normal to high normal range.
  • High blood pressure is greater than 140/90 mmHg and if you have blood pressure above 180/110 mmHg, your blood pressure is very high.

High blood pressure (hypertension) increases your chance of developing heart disease, a stroke, blood vessel disease, damage to the retina of the eye, kidney disease and/or other serious conditions. Generally, the higher the blood pressure the greater the health risks. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly, because you may have no symptoms or signs of high blood pressure but still have hypertension.

Your blood pressure may be strongly influenced by:

  • family history
  • eating patterns
  • alcohol intake
  • weight
  • physical activity.

Some medicines can also raise blood pressure (talk to your pharmacist).

Treatment for hypertension often includes lifestyle changes. These changes may include losing weight (if overweight), regular physical activity, a healthy diet, cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol, discontinuing smoking, a low-salt diet and reduced caffeine intake. If needed, there are medicines which can lower blood pressure.

It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by a health professional, such as a pharmacist. If you want to ‘know your numbers’ visit your local pharmacy, your health destination.

At Fresh Therapeutics we can take your blood pressure by means of easy-to-use, painless blood pressure machines.  We use blood pressure machines that can also detect Atrial Fibrillation. People with atrial fibrillation have a higher risk of stroke. At Fresh Therapeutics we sit down with you to explain your readings, offer advice on how to lower and maintain lower blood pressure and refer you to a doctor if further testing is required.

We also have more detailed information on hypertension and health advice in Self Care Fact Cards titled High blood pressure, Exercise and the heart, Weight and health, and Smoking.

Overweight and Obesity

Overweight and obesity is an Australian National Health Priority Area, currently affecting 63% of Australian adults and 25% of Australian children. The latest statistics show 35.5% of Australians aged 18 years and over are overweight, and almost 28% are obese.

It has been predicted that by 2025 around 83% of Australian men and 75% of women aged 20 years and over will be overweight or obese.

The causes of overweight and obesity are not easy to define. Although diet and physical activity are central to maintaining a healthy weight, social, environmental, behavioural, genetic and physiological factors can play their part in contributing to weight gain. For many, weight gain is hard to avoid and very difficult to reverse.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation (build-up) that may impair health. We gain weight when we eat more energy (kilojoules) than we use up through exercise or activity. Energy is measured in kilojoules (kJ) and different foods provide different amounts of energy.

Gaining weight can increase your risk of health problems, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. People with most of their body fat around their waist, which surrounds our vital organs, are at an increased risk. Risk factors for weight gain include living in inner regional, outer regional and remote areas of Australia, and living in a lower socioeconomic area.

Only one in 10 Australians who are trying to lose weight seeks advice from a dietitian. Other allied health professionals such as doctors and pharmacists can also provide advice and materials to help people who want to lose weight or manage their weight. At Fresh Therapeutics we can measure your weight and height to calculate your body mass index (BMI) as a way of identifying if you are overweight or obese and may benefit from advice about weight management.

People also often have unrealistic expectations of how much weight loss is possible. Weight loss goals should be realistic, and even small amounts of weight loss improve health and wellbeing. Weight management must focus on health improvement and behavioural change rather than only on weight loss.

Weight management is a long-term strategy. It must be initiated by the individual and then maintained with the help of healthcare professionals, family, friends and carers. It involves setting realistic goals, self-monitoring behaviour and progress, understanding stimulus control (recognising and avoiding triggers that prompt unplanned eating), modifying thinking and problem solving.

Lifestyle interventions are the first approach in weight management, with an aim to reduce energy intake, increase physical activity and encourage behavioural change, and brings a range of health benefits. More intensive interventions such as very low-energy diets (e.g. meal replacement products), weight loss medicines and even surgery may be required in some situations – ask your health care professional for advice.

Weight loss medicines and products should be used with a healthy diet and increased physical activity for consumers who are overweight and obese in order to highlight the need for a healthy diet, regular physical activity and lifestyle change to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

We have Pharmaceutical Self Care Fact Cards on topics such as Weight and health, Fat and cholesterol, and Fibre and bowel health. As well as measuring your BMI we can help you identify the best way for you to manage or lose weight.

Brain Awareness Week

This year, Brain Awareness Week is taking place on the 13th to 19th March. Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research, and unites the efforts of organisations worldwide in celebrating the brain for people of all ages.

In Australia, the Brain Foundation is a charity that is dedicated to funding research around the country into neurological disorders, brain disease and brain injuries. This research aims to advance diagnoses, treatment and patient outcomes.

The brain is a large and complex organ, and is made up of more than 100 billion nerves communicating in numerous connections called synapses. Different parts of the brain work together, and control numerous aspects of daily living, including breathing, sleep, coordination and balance.

According to the Brain Foundation, there are a wide number of conditions, diseases and injuries classified as ‘brain disorders’. These conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, migraine, multiple sclerosis, and many others. Brain disease and injury affects millions of Australians and their loved ones.

The Brain Foundation also runs the Healthy Brain Program, which aims to assist Australians to keep their brains healthy into old age through providing community education and research. As people are living longer, the prevalence of degenerative brain disorders is increasing. This program aims to increase community awareness of the potential for improving long term brain health through lifestyle changes and risk reduction, promote the recognition of risk reduction strategies, and motivate changes to develop a healthy brain lifestyle. Some pointers to a healthy brain include:

  • Exercise and challenge your brain
  • Nourish your brain with a healthy diet and drink alcohol in moderation
  • Enjoy physical activity
  • Make ‘safety first’ a priority (head trauma is the silent epidemic)
  • Learn to manage stress and depression
  • Relax and sleep well
  • Have regular checks for blood pressure, diabetes, heart rate, cholesterol
  • Do not smoke or use illegal drugs

For Brain Awareness Week this year, the Brain Foundation is inviting Australians to host a ‘Big Trivia’, and help Australians with brain disease and injury. This is a great opportunity to gather your family and friends, test your brain power and raise money for brain research. It is easy to host your trivia event – information on how to host the event, access to trivia questions and answers, invitations and promotional material, as well as other resources are available. For more information visit: https://bigtrivia.org.au/

At Fresh Therapeutics as members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care program we can provide Self Care Fact Cards on a wide variety of health topics about brain conditions. Available Fact Cards include those titled Alzheimer’s disease, Epilepsy, Migraine, and many others.