Renowned heart disease and genetic research expert Professor Fadi Charchar will discuss the importance of preventing and managing high blood pressure in a public forum on Friday to mark World Hypertension Day.
The Federation University professor and president of the International Society of Heart Research said it was important to talk about the 'silent disease' that is the top cause of death worldwide.
Statistics show Ballarat is particularly at risk. The prevalence of heart disease in Ballarat is 33 per cent compared to the Australian average of 21 per cent.
"A lot of people don't know they have high blood pressure and a lot of people aren't treated for it. Even for 20 per cent of people who are treated, their blood pressure is not controlled," he said.
High blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death worldwide.
A lot of people don't know they have high blood pressure and a lot of people aren't treated for it.Professor Fadi Charchar
Professor Charchar's research is focused on the early prevention of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Studies are looking to identify genes that may indicate if a person is at higher risk of hypertension.
Professor Charchar said short treatments for people identified as high risk before high blood pressure develops can prevent it developing later in life.
"That means you don't have to take drugs your whole life that you are more prone to get side affects from and the cost goes down because you are being treated for a short period rather than long period of time," he said.
Professor Charchar said his team was currently applying for a research grant to conduct studies specific to the Ballarat region to identify the contributing factors of high blood pressure.
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Federation University is involved in May Measurement Month, a global awareness campaign for high blood pressure that provides the world's largest free blood pressure screening.
Each May, volunteers around the world measure the blood pressure of people in cities, towns, and villages.
Data shows only half of people with high blood pressure know it and more than 10 million lives are lost worldwide each year due to raised blood pressure.
Professor Charchar recommends all people to check their blood pressure with their general practitioner and if being treated, to check in with a general practitioner to see if their treatment is working.
Anyone can attend Professor Charchar's free casual talk on Friday May 17 from 5.30pm at the Ballarat Technology Park.
The event is part of a series that aims to make Federation University research easily accessible to members of the public.
Visit Eventbrite for more information and to register.