A NEW health campaign has been launched to fight our biggest health issue - high blood pressure - using some of our smallest community members.
The High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia (HBPRCA) has released a video which features young children using "pester power" and telling their grandparents to get their blood pressure checked, using the timeless parenting phrase, "because I say so".
High blood pressure (hypertension) now affects one-in-three Australian adults, of whom four million are living with uncontrolled or untreated blood pressure levels.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease which claims the lives of more than 45,000 Australians each year.
According to Markus Schlaich, spokesperson for the HBPRCA and representative of the International Society of Hypertension, high blood pressure is a "silent killer".
"Most people don't experience any symptoms, and many have no idea they even have it until it's too late," he said. "There's no way of knowing whether you are affected unless you get your blood pressure checked regularly. What better way to encourage our ageing population to make that step than the concern of their cherished grandchildren?
"It's often the simple things in life that jolt us into action. I urge the children and youths in our community to pester their loved ones to get their blood pressure checked and avoid unnecessary risk to their health," said Professor Schlaich.
It's often the simple things in life that jolt us into action.
High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls becomes consistently too strong. For most people 120/80mmHg is considered a healthy blood pressure.
There are no warning signs that you may have high blood pressure and the cause is not always clear.
Recognised causes include: family history, diet, alcohol intake, weight and physical activity level.
Getting your blood pressure checked is simple - either make an appointment with your doctor or take advantage of the often free services offered in many pharmacies.
Professor Schlaich is calling for a concerted effort to test the blood pressure of patients over the age of 45 during all GP visits.
"It's a two-way street; patients need to ask, and doctors need to insist. Testing blood pressure cannot be left to chance."
US researchers have found the DASH diet reduces high blood pressure and heart failure risk in people under 75.
The DASH eating plan is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as beans, nuts, low-fat or fat-free dairy, poultry, fish, and vegetable oils.
It is low in saturated fats, full-fat dairy, fatty and red meats, salt, sugary drinks, sweets, and tropical oils such as those from coconut and palm.
The DASH diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, but emphasizes low-fat dairy and completely excludes alcohol.
Researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, USA analysed the diet data of more than 4000 people with a starting age of 45 - 84 over 13 years. They found the rate of heart failure was 40 per cent lower in people under 75 who most closely followed the DASH eating plan, compared with those who followed it the least.
Previous studies have also show the DASH diet can lower low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol.
"Heart failure is a frequent cause of hospitalization in older adults and is associated with substantial healthcare costs, so identifying modifiable risk factors [for] heart failure is an important public health goal," says lead study author Dr. Claudia L. Campos, an associate professor of general internal medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
This research showed that following the DASH diet can reduce the risk of developing heart failure by almost half, which is better than any medicine.