To mark the start of Know Your Numbers! Week (9-15 September 2019), charity Blood Pressure UK is calling for the ‘missing millions’ i.e. the nearly 6 million people living in the UK who have undiagnosed high blood pressure to get tested as part of a nationwide campaign to prevent 230,000 related cardiovascular diseases and save £120m to the NHS and social care system over the next 20 years.
Know Your Numbers! Week is the UK’s biggest free blood pressure testing event held at ‘Pressure Stations’ around the country. The campaign encourages people to have their blood pressure measured so they can take the steps needed to maintain a healthy blood pressure and to keep them feeling well.
If every person currently undiagnosed with high blood pressure had a painless, five-minute free blood pressure test, this simple act could add an extra healthy month to their life, that is, avoiding the devastating effects of a severe stroke i.e. paralysis on one side often with the loss of speech, or a heart attack or dementia, as they are more likely to take action to lower it. The more people that then have their high blood pressure managed, the more premature deaths can be prevented.
With unhealthy lifestyles and poor diet contributing to more young people in their 30s, 40s and 50s being diagnosed with hypertension, around 1 in 4 people in the UK are now living with high blood pressure. Known as the silent killer as there are no symptoms, high blood pressure is THE biggest single cause of death in the UK, but you won’t know if you have it unless you have a check, which is WHY it’s important that people have their blood pressure checked – it could save your life.
Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK comments: “Diseases caused by high blood pressure (such as stroke, vascular dementia, coronary heart disease and chronic kidney disease) cost the NHS over £2.1bn ever year, yet over 80% of premature cardiovascular deaths could be prevented by better public health.
“The majority of the UK population would benefit by improvements in diet and lifestyle such as eating less salt, more fruit and vegetables and doing more exercise, and once you know you are at risk, you are much more likely to take action. So if you are one of the missing 6million with high blood pressure, simply having a 5 minute check could add an extra healthy month to your life, helping you to live well for longer.”
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK says: “High blood pressure (hypertension) is very easy to treat and the vast majority of patients feel completely fine on medication. Yet over half of patients with high blood pressure nationwide, up to 80% in some regions, do not take their prescribed medicines properly and are at a higher risk.
“We support the recent NICE guidance that patients should be in control of their treatment. The risks and benefits should be properly explained to the patient, who can then decide on the best treatment themselves. It is vital thot those with severe or resistant hypertension are brought under control, as they are at much greater risk and the benefits are much higher.”
Hemini Bharadia, Know Your Numbers! Week Campaign Manager adds: “Know Your Numbers! Week is the perfect opportunity to have your blood pressure taken for free. Volunteers hosting our ‘Pressure Station’s provide information and advice on simple steps to keep blood pressure under control and will measure people’s blood pressure accurately.
“This year’s theme, ‘Living well for longer’, encourages people to have their blood pressure measured so they can take control of their health. With many of us living well into our 70s, 80s and 90s and with so much life to look forward to, these years need to be healthy and happy for everyone, free from disease and disability.
For further information on Blood Pressure UK and Know Your Numbers! Week, go to: www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/kyn/Home/AboutKYN/KYN2019
To find your nearest blood pressure testing station visit: www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/kyn/Home/Freebpchecks/Findfreecheck
Blood Pressure UK’s ‘Top five tips for a healthy blood pressure’:
1. Cut down on salt – Reducing your salt intake it the quickest way to lower your blood pressure. Don’t add it when cooking or at the table, avoid using stock cubes, gravy and soy sauce, check food labels and avoid processed foods high in salt – aim to eat less than 6g a day.
2. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least five different portions every day.
3. Watch your weight – try to reach the right weight for your height.
4. Exercise regularly – that doesn’t have to mean the gym, how about a regular lunchtime walk? 30 minutes five times a week is ideal. If you are unsure about taking up exercise, ask your GP.
5. Drink alcohol in moderation – up to 14 units a week for both men and women – a glass of wine or a pint of beer is 2-3 units.