Former Young Australian of the Year and the world’s youngest solo non-stop circumnavigator, Jessica Watson, has embarked on a voyage of a different kind to raise awareness of a cause very close to her heart.
The 29-year-old is urging Australians to get their blood pressure checked after her partner of ten years, Cameron Dale, died from a stroke in September 2021 at the age of 29. Cam’s stroke was the result of undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Jessica says Cam’s stroke was the first he was aware of his high blood pressure.
“It’s not on the radar for active young people and it needs to be. It’s so important to me to honour Cam by helping to prevent others from suffering strokes.”
Since Cam’s passing, Jessica has embarked on a mission encouraging people to check their blood pressure and increase their awareness of stroke at any age.
A Netflix film about her life and solo adventure sailing around the globe, True Spirit, launches on Netflix on February 3. At the end of the film there is a special tribute to Cam and Jessica used some special screenings to fundraise for Stroke Foundation.
“Stroke Foundation does such important work and I’m particularly grateful for the support they provide to young stroke survivors.” Jessica says.
Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sharon McGowan, says she is grateful for Jessica’s support.
“Jessica is an inspirational young Australian who will undoubtedly save lives by shining a bright light on this important health issue.”
High blood pressure is the biggest modifiable risk factor of stroke and affects one in three Australian adults.
Stroke Foundation’s report, No Postcode Untouched, found that if high blood pressure alone was eliminated, the number of strokes would almost be cut in half (48 per cent).
“I cannot stress enough the importance of having regular blood pressure checks to firstly identify if you have high blood pressure, and then work with your GP on ways to reduce your blood pressure and control it.” Ms McGowan said.
The issue is recognised in the health sector as needing urgent attention. Last month the National Hypertension Taskforce was launched, uniting organisations from across the nation, including Stroke Foundation, to crack down on the issue of managing high blood pressure in Australia.
Stroke Foundation runs an awareness campaign every May called Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check, to teach people about the often-undiagnosed risk of having high blood pressure.