Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check (ABBPC) has launched in conjunction with World Hypertension Day and Aussie entertainer Maria Venuti's daughter, Bianca, is sharing her mother's stroke journey to encourage everyone to have their blood pressure checked. Last year, Maria suffered a major haemorrhagic stroke which resulted in significant bleeding on the brain. As her only child, Bianca immediately took on the role of carer. After experiencing firsthand the impact Maria's stroke has had on both their lives, Bianca is helping to spread awareness about the importance of knowing your blood pressure numbers and provide real insight on the impact of stroke to carers.
'Even though my mum had experienced periods where she had high blood pressure in the past, her stroke was unexpected and caused from a huge shock. We were definitely not prepared for the way it turned our lives upside down," Bianca says.
'Mum now needs round-the-clock care, and is undergoing a long and challenging rehabilitation process. While she is making good progress, there are so many things she can't do for herself anymore, which has been difficult to see. Taking care of her is now a huge part of my everyday life and I know there are so many Australians going through the same journey."
High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and for the second year Priceline Pharmacy is partnering with the Stroke Foundation to deliver the ABBPC health initiative. During last year's campaign one in three people tested were found to be at high risk of a stroke* and were referred to their doctor for a full assessment. A person's stroke risk is assessed by a blood pressure reading in conjunction with lifestyle and family history questions.
The effects of a stroke go beyond the person who suffered the trauma, often impacting friends and family financially and emotionally, with Stroke Foundation research** revealing:
Around half of all Australians who survive a stroke will need a carer – and this responsibility falls to a loved one
The total cost burden of stroke per person is more than $129,000
31% of carers report difficulty meeting everyday living costs
35% of carers report their physical and emotional wellbeing had changed due to caring
'Through ABBPC I hope I can help people understand how important it is to manage the risks associated with high blood pressure. I know for me, I am making it a priority to keep my blood pressure in check. Going into Priceline Pharmacy to be tested is lot easier and more convenient than making an appointment at the doctor, plus it's free and only takes 5 minutes."
Priceline Pharmacy aims to beat last year's result of delivering 56,000 checks and from today until 14 June 2017 is offering free blood pressure checks in-store with a pharmacist or on one of 130 exclusive digital health stations. There will also be pop up sites in select shopping centres around the country offering the checks. A full list of locations can be found here: https://www.priceline.com.au/mission-health
Question: Why is the Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check campaign, close to your heart?
Bianca Venuti: My mum, Maria Venuti, had a major stroke last year, and she had been a Stroke Foundation ambassador and involved in Australia's biggest blood pressure check (before her stroke!) - so it's a cause that is close to my heart. Until mum well enough to be here again, I want to represent her and help Australians to fight stroke and manage their blood pressure.
Question: Can you share with us some of the difficulties you and your mother have experienced after her stroke?
Bianca Venuti: My Mum now needs round-the-clock care, and is undergoing a long and challenging rehabilitation process. Her recovery has been a slow process and there are so many things she can't do for herself anymore, which has been difficult to see. Taking care of her is now a huge part of my everyday life.
Question: Why is it important to have regular blood pressure checks?
Bianca Venuti: As high blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke, a blood pressure check really can save your life. There are also no symptoms of high blood pressure so there's no way of knowing if you have it without a blood pressure check. While my mum had experienced brief periods of high blood pressure in the past, her stroke was very unexpected and such a huge shock. She is lucky to be alive, and it is fair to say that our lives have been completely turned upside down as a result.
Question: What do you hope to achieve alongside Priceline Pharmacy and the Stroke Foundation with the Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check?
Bianca Venuti: I think it's important for me to give back to others, to share my experience, and to create something positive out of this situation, rather than just sitting back and being sad. It's great to be able to help others and use your own experience to help prevent people having to go through the same thing. The more education there is around stroke, the more people can understand and be proactive about their health, and focus on preventative strategies. I hope we can help people understand how important it is to manage the risks associated with high blood pressure, which can be identified through these checks at Priceline pharmacies.
Question: What are the symptoms associated with high blood pressure?
Bianca Venuti: Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan says, 'High blood pressure has no symptoms, the only way to know your blood pressure is to have it checked. People should have their blood pressure checked regularly, Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check provides a great opportunity to pop into your local Priceline Pharmacy and have a fast and free check and find out more about your stroke risk. It will take 10 minutes and it may save your life."
Question: How often do you now have your blood pressure checked?
Bianca Venuti: I had it checked recently, it's so important to be on top of regular checks.
Interview by Brooke Hunter