Millions urged to get blood pressure checks

Millions urged to get blood pressure checks

The NHS describe it as the ‘silent killer’, with 4.2 million people estimated to have it without knowing

Millions of people are being urged to get NHS pharmacy checks for high blood pressure, which has been described as the “silent killer”.

If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and vascular dementia.

Up to 4.2 million people in England are thought to be living with high blood pressure without knowing it – around a third of all those with the condition.

Now, a new NHS Get Your Blood Pressure Checked campaign has been launched, backed by health charities, to warn people the condition often has no symptoms.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, said: “High blood pressure usually has no symptoms but can lead to serious health consequences.

“The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get a simple, non-invasive blood pressure test.

“Even if you are diagnosed, the good news is that it’s usually easily treatable.

“Getting your blood pressure checked at a local pharmacy is free, quick and you don’t even need an appointment, so please go for a check today – it could save your life.”

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two figures.

The “top” number is the systolic pressure, which measures the pressure when the heart pushes blood out.

The “bottom” number is the diastolic pressure, which measures the pressure when the heart rests between beats.

Generally, ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90 over 60 and 120 over 80.

High blood pressure is considered to be 140 over 90 or higher.

Treatment for high blood pressure includes lifestyle changes, such as cutting down salt and taking more exercise, as well as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs).

Broadcaster Gloria Hunniford, who is backing the new campaign, said: “This campaign is very close to my heart – both my husband and my father sadly suffered from a number of strokes due to high blood pressure, so I know from personal experience just how important it is to get your blood pressure checked, even if you feel healthy.

“That’s why I’m so pleased to hear that pharmacies offer free, quick blood pressure checks for people aged 40 and over – thankfully, this really will save lives.”

Health minister, Andrea Leadsom, said the NHS has expanded its offering to include 2.5 million more blood pressure checks within local pharmacies.

“Knowing if you have a healthy blood pressure is so important and this new drive will help to prevent the potentially fatal consequences of untreated high blood pressure,” she said.

“I urge people to go to their local pharmacy today to get their blood pressure checked. It could be a lifesaving trip.”

A poll of more than 2,000 people aged 40 and over to support the campaign found that 41% of people are unaware that, if left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease.

More than a fifth (22%) were unaware it can cause strokes and heart attacks.

The campaign is backed by charities including the British Heart Foundation, the Stroke Association, Heart Research UK and Blood Pressure UK.

Around one in three adults are thought to suffer high blood pressure, with around three in 10 of those undiagnosed (4.2 million people in England).

Former footballer Graeme Souness is also backing the campaign.

He said: “It’s so important to get your blood pressure checked – in my experience, high blood pressure doesn’t only affect the ‘usual suspects’, it can and does affect anyone, so you could be at risk without knowing it.

“I’ve had high blood pressure for years but have been able to manage it with a routine of healthy eating, regular fitness and regular blood pressure checks.”

Helen Williams, national clinical director for cardiovascular disease prevention at NHS England, said: “With thousands of pharmacies across the country now offering free blood pressure checks with healthy living advice, it’s a quick, easy and convenient way to keep on top of your cardiovascular health at a time and place that suits you.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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