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The numbers that could save your life

Posted: September 5, 2023
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It causes two thirds of strokes and almost half of all heart attacks, more than 6 million people across the UK have it and many are not aware. Yet it is one of the most preventable and treatable conditions.


NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly integrated care board (ICB) is encouraging anyone at risk of high blood pressure to get checked. It’s free, it takes two minutes and it could save your life.


High blood pressure rarely has symptoms that you can notice, so the only way to find out is to be tested. That’s why NHS Cornwall ICB is starting its year-long mission to get more people identified and treated.


There are many places you can have your blood pressure taken. And the NHS has teamed up with local rugby legends the Cornish Pirates to offer free checks at their match against south west rivals Bath.


Simon Edwards, the Pirates’ head physiotherapist said: “When NHS Cornwall approached us we knew we wanted to get involved as older men in the 40 to 74 age range are one of the biggest undiagnosed groups for high blood pressure. That struck a chord. If people get checked and take action we could prevent 503 heart attacks and 749 strokes across the south west. That’s important.”


If you’re attending the match look out for the NHS Cornwall stand on arrival, where you can get your own blood pressure checked before the game.


Chris Reid, Chief Medical Officer at the ICB explained: “We have set ourselves a big aim. In the coming year, across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we hope to reach more than 10,000 people to ‘Know Your Numbers’ and ‘Ease Your Pressure’. We want to record their blood pressure reading and, if it is high, help them with the most suitable ways to reduce it.


“The biggest win would be for every single person to know their numbers, just as they know their height or weight.


“We want to make it easy for everyone, so we will be working with our partners such as Cornwall Council and the community and voluntary sector to make sure there are many different chances for residents to take part.”

Cornwall Council is responsible for the NHS Health Check programme for people between the ages of 40 to 74, which is delivered by many GP surgeries. Rachel Wigglesworth, Director of Public Health said: “The free NHS Health Check includes a blood pressure reading and is just one of the ways that will help us achieve this important goal.

“I encourage everyone to take up the offer of this check at their GP surgery if invited. It takes a matter of minutes and it might just save your life.”


This week is Know Your Numbers! Week (4 to 10 September) so why not get involved right away by getting your blood pressure checked?


A local pharmacy can take your reading for free, and many GP surgeries have a blood pressure machine in the waiting room. If you have access to a blood pressure monitor, you can test yourself at home. Some GP practices allow you to submit the readings to them online.


Dr Michael Marsh, Regional Medical Director for NHS England South West said: “Once you know your blood pressure is too high, the NHS can give you advice on how to start bringing it down.


“You might not necessarily need medication as there is a lot you can do to reduce blood pressure by making healthy lifestyle changes.”


If you have a recent blood pressure reading, use the NHS check your blood pressure tool to understand what the numbers mean and what to do next.


There is lots more information about blood pressure, why it is important, and support available in your local area on NHS England’s Know your numbers webpage.