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Know your numbers to help prevent heart attack and stroke

This May, health leaders around the world are encouraging all people to check their blood pressure regularly and know their numbers to help prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Having high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious medical condition that can significantly increase the risk of developing Cardiovascular disease (CVD). It significantly increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, but early detection and treatment can help people live longer, healthier lives.

The WHO estimates that just under half (46%) of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have high blood pressure and of the risks that presents to their lives and health. CVD is the second most common cause of premature death in England after cancer. It accounts for one in four premature deaths and it is a leading cause of disability nationally.

That’s why NHS England is supporting World Hypertension Day (17th May) to increase awareness about the risks of high blood pressure, and to encourage everyone aged over 40 to contact their local pharmacy to ask if they offer the free Blood Pressure Check Service.

The Blood Pressure Check Service is offered in many community pharmacies, offering free blood pressure checks to help identify those patients that are at risk of CVD associated with hypertension and refer people identified as likely to have high blood pressure to their GP for ongoing care to manage their blood pressure and get support on healthy lifestyle behaviours to further reduce their risks of developing CVD.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, Chair of the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Hypertension is unfortunately one of those medical conditions that doesn’t have any obvious symptoms or warning signs, which is why so many adults that are living with high blood pressure are unaware of it. Regular blood pressure checks will help you to know your numbers and understand your risk of heart attacks and stroke and help you take steps to make healthier lifestyle choices to reduce your risk of developing CVD.

“There are many lifestyle choices you can change to reduce this risk, including eating healthier (reducing salt and fatty foods, and increasing fruit and vegetable intake), being more physically active, reducing how much you smoke and drink alcohol, and by losing weight. There are other risk factors too, such as having a family history of hypertension, being over 65, and having other diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.

“I would encourage everyone who’s over 40 to contact their local community pharmacy and ask if they are offering the free Blood Pressure Check Service. If they don’t offer it yet, please visit other local pharmacies to find one that does, there are many pharmacies across Norfolk and Waveney that currently offer it and more and more are becoming available every day.”

Tony Dean from Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee said: “Speak to your community pharmacy to see if they’re offering the new free service yet. This is another great example of community pharmacies being an accessible choice for healthcare services, help and advice.”

The NHS is encouraging people to be aware of their blood pressure numbers and regularly monitoring blood pressure levels, whether that’s via a community pharmacy, their GP, or using a patient’s own digital blood pressure monitor.

Home blood pressure monitoring enables patients with hypertension to measure and share their blood pressure readings with their GP from their home. Find out more about home blood pressure monitoring at NHS England » Home blood pressure monitoring.

For more information on the Blood Pressure Check Service, visit NHS Community Pharmacy Blood Pressure Check Service.

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