Do you know your numbers?

Almost two thirds of the UK population are ignoring the simplest step towards reducing their risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure by not knowing their blood pressure numbers, says Blood Pressure UK.

Results from the health charity’s latest survey suggests 64 per cent of people in this country don’t know what their blood pressure is, which could explain why a Health Survey for England has found around a third of people with high blood pressure don’t realise that they have a problem.

According to the charity, 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, including 30 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men. And if you have high blood pressure you may be three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke as someone with a normal blood pressure.

Other findings from the charity’s latest survey include:

  • 39 per cent of people are more concerned about other ailments (and the subsequent effects on their health) than knowing their blood pressure numbers – putting themselves at an increased risk of a debilitating stroke and/or heart attack.
  • 27 per cent of respondents consider going out with friends and socialising more of a priority than having their blood pressure taken.
  • 16 per cent think a healthy blood pressure reading is 130/80mmHg which implies pre-high blood pressure, compared to an ideal blood pressure reading of 120/80mmHg.

Home monitoring

Blood pressure UK is now calling for all households in the country to have a validated blood pressure monitor, and that those on a low income or who are most at risk should receive financial help from the government to buy one. This, it says, could save the NHS more than £1 billion every year by identifying the 6.5 million who have high blood pressure but haven’t been diagnosed.

Indeed, the charity’s survey also found that 66 per cent of people don’t own a blood pressure monitor. Yet of the 34 per cent who do, four out of 10 still go to their GP more than once a year to be tested, with 26 per cent believing they will receive a more accurate reading.

Meanwhile more than a quarter of people also said they didn’t feel the need to test their blood pressure at all, and 17 per cent claimed they only trust their GP to do the testing.

If you want to find out more about home blood pressure monitoring, your local Careway pharmacist can give you lots of advice and recommend a blood pressure monitor that’s effective, accurate and simple to use. The British and Irish Hypertension Society website also has a list of validated blood pressure monitors.

If you prefer to have your blood pressure measured by a health professional, many pharmacies offer blood pressure monitoring, often with no appointment necessary. Find your nearest participating Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.