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Sat. May 25th, 2024

The NHS wants more people over 40 to get a blood pressure check, saying there are millions who do not realise they have dangerously high levels.

Over-40s urged to get free blood pressure checks
Over-40s urged to get free blood pressure checks

Often, there are no warning symptoms and it is thought about a third of cases are undiagnosed – that is 4.2 million people in England alone.

Sometimes called a “silent killer”, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Free checks are available at many local pharmacies and GP surgeries.

While the cause is not always clear, risk factors include being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and smoking.

Lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on salt and quitting smoking, as well as medication can treat it and reduce the risk of complications.

The campaign is being backed by Graeme Souness, TV pundit and former footballer, who is affected by high blood pressure and had a heart attack.

He said: “It’s so important to get your blood pressure checked – in my experience, high blood pressure doesn’t only affect the ‘usual suspects’, it can and does affect anyone so you could be at risk without knowing it.

“I’ve had high blood pressure for years but have been able to manage it with a routine of healthy eating, regular fitness and regular blood pressure checks.”

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a leading cause of premature death.

It puts strain on the heart and blood vessels which, in the long term, can lead to life-threatening conditions.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) as two numbers. The higher number (systolic pressure) is the force in the arteries as your heart pumps blood around your body. The lower (diastolic pressure) is the pressure in the same blood vessels between heartbeats, as the heart relaxes.

The healthy range is between 90 over 60mmHg and 120 over 80mmHg. High blood pressure is considered to be from 140/90mmHg or more.

It is quick and simple to check, and with more pharmacies now offering the service you do not always need to book in advance.

Health Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “As part of our Pharmacy First programme, the NHS has expanded its pharmacy offering to include 2.5 million more blood pressure checks within local pharmacies.

“Knowing if you have a healthy blood pressure is so important, and this new drive will help to prevent the potentially fatal consequences of untreated high blood pressure. I urge people to go to their local pharmacy today to get their blood pressure checked. It could be a life-saving trip.”

Deepak Bilakhia, a Nottingham-based community pharmacist, said: “Too many people are unaware that pharmacies offer this kind of service, without needing to book an appointment. So, if you’re 40 and over and haven’t had a check in the last six months, don’t put it off any longer.”

Find a pharmacy that offers free blood pressure checks near you by searching “pharmacy blood pressure check” or visiting the NHS website.

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