Up to 500,000 people in the North West of England are unaware they are living with high blood pressure, according to new estimates from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).[i]
If untreated, high blood pressure can significantly raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s also associated with an increased risk of vascular dementia.
High blood pressure, often referred to as a silent killer, does not usually have any symptoms, meaning that many people are unaware they are living with one of the risk factors most commonly associated with heart attacks and strokes.
However, if detected the condition can be easily treated by a combination of simple lifestyle changes and medication, depending on the individual.
The BHF is urging people to get their blood pressure tested, whether at home, in a pharmacy, or a GP surgery. The charity is supporting May Measurement Month (MMM), a global research initiative, now in its third year, which aims to improve public awareness of high blood pressure.
The BHF is currently funding £1.5m worth of community projects across the country which aim to reach and test people who are most at-risk of high blood pressure in everyday settings such as train stations, barber shops and football grounds, or through existing initiatives such as the Fire & Rescue Service safe and well programme.
The BHF also has a partnership with Rowlands Pharmacies, where people can drop in any time to have their blood pressure taken.
The charity says reaching people outside of hospitals and GP surgeries is key to making sure that millions of people with undiagnosed high blood pressure in the UK, understand their risk and are able to get the treatment and advice they need.
It is estimated that just over a quarter of adults in the North West of England, around 1.6 million people, have high blood pressure. Of these, around 1.1 million people have been diagnosed with high blood pressure by their GP.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation said:
“Getting your blood pressure under control is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of having a heart attack a stroke. These figures show that millions of adults of all ages are living with untreated high blood pressure – a ticking time bomb that puts their future health in jeopardy.
“Having your blood pressure checked takes less than five minutes, but it is all too easy to put it on the back burner in our hectic day to day lives. That’s why we’re urging everyone to take a moment this month and get their pressure checked – it could ultimately save your life.”
Professor Francesco Cappuccio, Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Warwick, President of the British and Irish Hypertension Society and national coordinator of MMM19 in the UK said:
“Over 10 million people die each year due to conditions related to high blood pressure (hypertension) – such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure – but unless hypertension is detected we cannot treat it to prevent these conditions. Screening is cheap and takes only a few minutes to measure someone’s pressure which if raised can be easily treated. May Measurement Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of knowing your blood pressure number. Everyone should join in and support this unique initiative”.
For more information please visit www.bhf.org.uk/