Australians keen to make a healthy start to 2021 are being urged by the Australian Stroke Foundation to have a blood pressure check.
Stroke Foundation Clinical Council Chair Professor Bruce Campbell said having your blood pressure checked is easy, painless and potentially life-saving, but is too often overlooked.
"This year, rather than jumping straight into long-term health goals like getting fit or losing a few kilos, start with a blood pressure check at your doctor or pharmacy," Professor Campbell said. "It's like checking your car is in good working order before a big road trip."
According to Prof Cambell high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is a key risk factor for stroke and the most modifiable.
New figures released by the Stroke Foundation revealed more than 4.7 million Australians were living with high blood pressure with the majority not even knowing they have it.
Prof Campbell said the only way to know if you have high blood pressure was to have it checked regularly.
"High blood pressure has no immediate symptoms. Yet over time it puts extra stress on blood vessel walls. This can cause them to narrow or break down, eventually leading to a stroke," he said.
"High blood pressure is also a risk for other cardiovascular conditions and increases the risk of death from the coronavirus (COVID-19)."
"Research has shown the number of strokes would be almost cut in half (48 percent reduction) if high blood pressure alone was eliminated," Prof Campbell said.