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Uncontrolled blood pressure in Australia: a call to action

Aletta E Schutte, Ruth Webster, Garry Jennings and Markus P Schlaich
Med J Aust 2022; 216 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51350
Published online: 6 December 2021

A national commitment to improved blood pressure control would lead to significant health and economic gains

Globally, the leading risk factor for death is widely acknowledged as being raised blood pressure (BP).1 The Global Burden of Disease study found that a systolic BP of 110 mmHg and above accounted for 10.8 million deaths in 2019.1 This constitutes one in every five deaths,1 mainly due to coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. A report on deaths in Australia2 confirmed that also here the leading cause of death is coronary heart disease, followed by dementia and cerebrovascular disease — with coronary disease, vascular dementia and cerebrovascular disease sharing a common risk factor: raised BP. Australian data have shown raised BP to be responsible for 43% of coronary heart disease, 41% of stroke, 65% of the burden of hypertensive heart disease, 38% of chronic kidney disease, 32% of atrial fibrillation and flutter, and 3.6% of dementia.3,4

  • Aletta E Schutte1,2
  • Ruth Webster2,3
  • Garry Jennings4
  • Markus P Schlaich5

  • 1 University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 4 National Heart Foundation of Australia, Melbourne, VIC
  • 5 Dobney Hypertension Centre, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA


Correspondence: a.schutte@unsw.edu.au

Acknowledgements: 

This article is endorsed by the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia (HBPRCA). We thank the members of the HBPRCA Executive Committee (Audrey Adji, Bradley Broughton, Quynh Nhu Dinh, Genevieve Gabb, Gavin Lambert, Francine Marques, Anastasia Mihailidou, Jonathan Mynard, Mark Nelson, Rachel Climie, Martin Schultz, Michael Stowasser) for their critical review of the manuscript.

Competing interests:

Aletta Schutte is Immediate Past President of the International Society of Hypertension. Garry Jennings is the Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation of Australia. Markus Schlaich is President of the HBPRCA.

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