New PHE report calls for greater awareness of high blood pressure

A new report published by Public Health England (PHE) is calling for greater awareness of high blood pressure and increased testing.

According to PHE, only half of adults in England know their blood pressure or were tested recently – and another 5.5 million could be undiagnosed, leaving them at greater risk of heart attack, stroke or even vascular dementia. PHE is encouraging all adults over the age of 40 to get their blood pressure tested as part of the NHS Health Check, a simple measure that could save their life. If found, high blood pressure can be managed and reduced by making simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthily and reducing the level salt in your diet.

High blood pressure affects more than 1 in 4 people in England and was responsible for around 75,000 deaths in 2015. Late diagnosis is common as the condition often has no symptoms, and is frequently found in opportunistic tests for other conditions. Important data from the latest edition of Health matters reveals that:

  • The NHS Health Check helps diagnose a new case of high blood pressure in every 27 checks
  • Despite being largely preventable, diseases caused by high blood pressure cost the NHS over £2.1 billion a year
  • If the population as a whole reduced their average blood pressure by 5mmHg this could save the NHS, social care, and local authorities £850 million on health and social care costs
  • £120 million in savings could also be achieved just by increasing the number of adults who have high blood pressure diagnosed by 15%
  • Over 10 million people aged 40-74 have been invited for an NHS Health Check since it launched in 2013, but just under half (46%) actually took the offer up

Catherine Kelly, British Heart Foundation (BHF) Director of Prevention, Survival and Support, said: “5.5 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure which puts them at a much higher risk of suffering a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke. For a condition which is so easily detected and managed, this figure is simply unacceptable and we need an urgent improvement in the number of people diagnosed with this silent killer.”

Spectrum Community Health offers blood pressure testing through its Workforce Wellness Programme, which is also available through Wakefield Council and NHS Wakefield CCG.