Tauranga City residents can receive a free blood pressure check at two local Pak’n Save stores next week as the Stroke Foundation begins its annual Big Blood Pressure Check Road Trip.
The road trip, which travels throughout the North Island, will stop at Tauranga Pak’n Save on May 25 from 1pm-4pm, and at Papamoa on May 25 from 10am-3pm.
Equipped to screen for high blood pressure and hypertension, the foundation’s Health Promotion team say anyone is welcome to visit the mobile units and get a free check.
Up to one-fifth of New Zealanders have high blood pressure, which is a leading contributor to stroke. Some people can go years without knowing they’re suffering from high blood pressure as it often has no symptoms, according to Stroke Foundation chief executive Jo Lambert.
“When we talk about strokes being avoidable, this is our primary concern,” says Jo. “High blood pressure can be controlled, but only if people know they have it; otherwise they carry the risk of stroke with them constantly.”
In the last decade the Stroke Foundation has carried out up to 20,000 free community blood pressure checks annually. “Every time we visit a community, as many as three per cent of the people we test are at high risk of stroke.
“That’s 300 people for every 10,000 people we screen, that are in hypertensive crisis. A hypertensive crisis is when high blood pressure is so acute that someone is in critical danger of experiencing a stroke,” says Jo.
“In addition, as many as one-third of people we test have higher than normal blood pressure readings and are unaware of any potential future risk.”
High blood pressure is more common in Māori, Pacific Islanders and Asians, with these population groups experiencing more strokes. The Stroke Foundation would like to see as many people during the Road Trip as possible and is encouraging whānau to visit together.
As many as 2000 New Zealanders die from stroke every year – according to Ministry of Health 2018 figures on mortality numbers and rates from common causes of death by sex and ethnicity.
Meanwhile, a stroke is experienced every hour in New Zealand.
“Our aim is to get this number down,” says Jo. “Routine blood pressure checks need to increase significantly if we are ever to reduce the number of devastating strokes in Aotearoa.”
Jo says once people know they have high blood pressure, they can access tools and support to make key lifestyle decisions, seek medical help, and get medication if they need it.
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to receive a free blood pressure check, and that is the whole idea behind the Road Trip.”
The vans, which are sponsored by Ryman Healthcare, will be on the road for eight weeks and, in partnership with Foodstuffs NZ. Dates of sites are regularly updated at: www.stroke.org.nz/big-blood-pressure-check-vans
The Stroke Foundation is a national charity in NZ focused on the prevention of and recovery from stroke. Find out more at: www.stroke.org.nz