Member Profile

Professors Markus Schlaich and Alta Schutte are the Co-Chairs of the new National Hypertension Taskforce, a joint partnership between the ACvA and Hypertension Australia.

With high blood pressure as the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, they’re both excited by the future and impact of the Taskforce which has set itself the goal of doubling the control rates of blood pressure from 32% to 70% by 2030.

“We have a unique opportunity to overhaul the detection, treatment and management of hypertension in Australia,” says Professor Schutte.

In 2020, Professor Schutte had just arrived in Australia from South Africa. She says, “Joining the ACvA seemed a natural way to connect and get to know the broad activities of the cardiovascular and stroke community. Great decision it seems!”

She liked the collaborative and inclusive approach the ACvA took in involving key stakeholders, such as government, industry, NGOs, the scientific community and consumers. Since joining she’s been elected as an ACvA Board Member and is currently Company Secretary as well as Co-Chair of the Hypertension Taskforce through the ACvA’s Clinical Theme initiative.

Professor Schlaich has been an ACvA member since the very beginning. He was inspired by the development of a framework that would bring together cardiovascular researchers across the research spectrum, and clinicians to work and advocate as an aligned group.

He says, “I saw it going from strength to strength, supporting CV and stroke research in all its facets, bringing CV researchers from all backgrounds together, and advocating successfully to governments in order to further address the burden that CV disease imposes on the Australian and global community.”

He has been involved with ACvA bringing connectivity and alignment through his roles as a Board Director of the Western Australian Cardiovascular Research Network (WACRA), the President of Hypertension Australia (formerly the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia) and through ACvA’s Clinical Themes Initiative as the current Co-Chair of the Hypertension Taskforce.

The National Hypertension Taskforce was launched by the Honourable Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health & Aged Care in December 2022.

Professor Schlaich says, “Given my clinical and research background in hypertension, I’m deeply involved in the Hypertension Clinical Theme. The creation of a National Hypertension Taskforce through the enormous support given by ACvA has been a big milestone for me.”

“It’s refreshing to be on the cusp of making real-life translational change in how raised blood pressure is managed,” says Professor Schutte.

The National Hypertension Taskforce has broad engagement from over 25 different stakeholders, including the Heart Foundation, Stroke Foundation, World Health Organization, CSANZ, RACGP, APNA, Kidney Health Australia, PSA, Pharmacy Guild, Stroke Society, Endocrine Society of Australia and several academic institutions.

Professor Schutte says the energy and engagement at prioritisation and action meetings of the Taskforce have been a highlight which, “encourage us all to move forward in substantially improving the cardiovascular health of Australians in years to come.”

We are currently seeking expressions of interests to join the National Hypertension Taskforce Working Groups.

 If you want to be part of this National call to action and are committed to improving blood pressure control rates in Australia, find out more about the working groups and how to apply HERE.