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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

New study findings amplify National Hypertension Taskforce goals

Health Industry Hub | February 22, 2024 |

Pharma News: A new Australian study has revealed that hypertension remains the predominant cause of death in Australia. The research underscores the imperative for a unified national effort to address blood pressure control.

Over a span of three decades, from 1990 to 2019, the study – led by The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Sydney – affirms that elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) consistently ranked as the primary risk factor for deaths with identifiable causes. This revelation places hypertension ahead of dietary risks and tobacco use, according to the findings.

Apart from the well-established association with severe cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure emerges as a contributing factor to cognitive decline, adverse COVID outcomes, kidney disease, and pregnancy complications.

In Australia, a staggering 34% of adults grapple with high blood pressure, and the study suggests that a 25% reduction could potentially save around 37,000 lives annually. However, only 32% of Australians with hypertension have successfully lowered their blood pressure to within the healthy range, lagging significantly behind Canada, where 68% have achieved the same feat. Alarmingly, half of Australians with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition.

Lead author Alta Schutte, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine from The George Institute and UNSW, emphasised the urgency of effective population-level blood pressure control. She stated “Australia lags well behind other high-income countries in blood pressure control, and this study shows it is past time for us to act. Prevention, detection, and effective treatment are our best weapons against heart disease and stroke. We have these weapons, and we should be using them.”

Professors Schutte, Jennings, and Markus Schlaich, chair of Hypertension Australia, are founding members of the National Hypertension Taskforce. Established in 2022 and officially launched by the Australian Government in December of the same year, the taskforce aims to elevate Australia’s blood pressure control rates from 32% to 70% by 2030. The taskforce is set to unveil its inaugural roadmap towards this goal on March 18, 2024, at Parliament House, Canberra.

The research delved into three decades of Australian data from the Global Burden of Disease Study, spanning from 1990 to 2019. The analysis revealed that raised SBP contributed to 24% of all-cause deaths in Australia in 1990, dropping to 14% in 2010 and remaining static at 14% in 2019. Similarly, raised SBP contributed to 54%, 44%, and 44% of cardiovascular-related deaths in 1990, 2010, and 2019, respectively.

Professor Schutte highlighted an initial improvement attributed to the introduction of new medications. However, she stressed the need for renewed attention and investment to reverse the stagnant trend over the past decade.

“We also know that there are better approaches to treatment now. Single pill combination therapies that combine two or three low-dose blood pressure lowering medications in one not only more effective in lowering blood pressure, but also easier for people to take consistently, and cheaper,” added Professor Schutte.

The study also uncovered age and gender disparities, particularly noting a concerning increase in the contribution of raised blood pressure to stroke-related deaths in men aged 25-49 over the three decades.

Professor Garry Jennings, Chief Medical Advisor at the National Heart Foundation, urged vigilance and screening for elevated blood pressure across all age groups.

“In particular, men younger than 50 would be advised to have their blood pressure checked at their next GP appointment,” he emphasised.

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