Readers encouraged to start their year with a blood pressure check

John Garbutt

Central Coast residents keen to make a healthy start to 2021 are being urged to have their blood pressure checked.

Stroke Foundation Clinical Council Chair, Professor Bruce Campbell, said blood pressure checks are easy, painless and potentially lifesaving, but are too often overlooked.

“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.

“It’s also a risk for other cardiovascular conditions and increases the risk of death from COVID-19,” Prof Campbell explained.

There were over 60,000 residents recorded as living with high blood pressure within the electorates of Dobell and Shortland last year (Stroke Foundation 2020 electorate maps).

“The new year is a fresh start for many, but 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.

“It’s like checking your car is in good working order before a big road trip,” Prof Campbell said.

John Garbutt is a man that knows first hand how important regular blood pressure checks can be.

Once a senior officer in public service, in 2003 he suffered a near fatal haemorrhagic stroke at 46.

He’s now the President of the Stroke Recovery Association NSW and is also a member of Central Coast based stroke survivors group, WAGS.

Short for Working Age Group Support, WAGS meet monthly at Mingara Recreation Club and their goal is to establish a support network for survivors, their families and carers, while raising awareness about stroke within the community.

“When I had my stroke, I’d actually been to see my doctor a few weeks before and they noticed I had high blood pressure, but I didn’t think anything of it.

“A few weeks later I started feeling sick one afternoon and a headache ended up being a burst blood vessel and swelling on my brain.

“I ended up being rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital for emergency treatment and that included being put in an induced coma for 18 days,” Garbutt said.

After coming out of his coma, Garbutt entered a lengthy rehabilitation period, including having to relearn how to walk, and while he now lives with disability and can no longer work, he still considers himself one of the lucky ones.

“I do have a family history of high blood pressure, but it was never something I worried about.

“I was busy with my job and my life and I guess in a way we all sort of feel like we’re invincible until something happens.

“Now I can’t recommend regular blood pressure checks enough.

“I get mine done monthly and I’ve also cut salt out of my diet and have made a lot of lifestyle changes to keep my blood pressure down,” Garbutt said.

Dilon Luke