Black cab taxi drivers may have the knowledge but they do not know their numbers

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Black cab taxi drivers may have the knowledge but they don't know their numbers

Drivers of black taxis may have ‘The Knowledge’ but 75 per cent of them do not know their most vital statistics – their blood pressure numbers, according to new research from two blood pressure charities.

The ‘Know your Numbers!’ Survey, conducted by UK charity the Blood Pressure Association in conjunction with Scottish charity the High Blood Pressure Foundation, found that only a quarter of black cab drivers know their blood pressure numbers, yet 61 per cent of those tested were found to have high blood pressure readings (at or above 140/90mmHg).

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the major cause of strokes and heart attacks, and can also lead to dementia and kidney problems.

The findings, being launched at the start of the nation’s biggest blood pressure event, Know your Numbers! Week (7-13 September), also revealed an England/Scotland divide when it comes to blood pressure health among cab drivers, with Scotland faring worst.

The research, carried out among black taxi drivers in London and Edinburgh, showed that: 

  • 70 per cent of cabbies in Scotland had high blood pressure readings compared with 52 per cent of their counterparts in England
  • Twice as many cabbies in Scotland (56 per cent) than in England (27 per cent) said they ate convenience foods like pasties, crisps or chocolate bars either every day or several times a week
  • Half of cabbies in Scotland (51 per cent) admitted to ‘never’ thinking about the salt they add to food or checking food labels for salt content, compared with a fifth (19 per cent) of their counterparts in England.

Mike Rich, Executive Director of UK charity the Blood Pressure Association, said: “Black taxi drivers have The Knowledge when it comes to a city’s streets, but our research has shown that this unfortunately doesn’t translate into knowing their most vital health statistics – their blood pressure numbers.

“There does appear to be a blood pressure divide between the cabbies we tested in England and Scotland, and this may be down to their respective diets and lifestyles. Although Scotland fared worse, the fact that around half of the London cabbies had high readings is still cause for concern.

“High blood pressure is the major cause of strokes and heart attacks, but millions of lives could be saved if more people knew their blood pressure numbers and took action to lower them.

"We hope that our research will encourage cabbies, and all adults across the UK, to have a free blood pressure check during Know your Numbers! Week and take that first step towards lifelong healthy blood pressure.”

Susan Inch, Director of the High Blood Pressure Foundation, said: “It’s worrying to see that nearly three quarters of the cabbies we tested here in Scotland had high blood pressure readings. It’s not surprising given that 50 per cent of them admitted to not watching their salt intake – too much salt is known to raise blood pressure – and regularly eating high fat convenience foods. The good news is that they now know their blood pressure numbers and how to lower them. We hope that many others will be as willing as the cabbies we tested to take the opportunity to have a free check during Know your Numbers! Week.”

Around 1,500 Pressure Stations will be offering free blood pressure checks throughout the UK during the Blood Pressure Association’s Know your Numbers! Week (7-13 September). To find your nearest venue visit or call 020 8772 4994.

More on Know your Numbers! Week 2009

Find out more about the UK's biggest free blood pressure testing event:

Notes to Editors:

  • The Know your Numbers! Survey was conducted by the Blood Pressure Association and High Blood Pressure Foundation among 100 black cab drivers in London and Edinburgh from 21 August - 25 August 2009.
  • For more interviews, more details on Know your Numbers! Week or high blood pressure, contact the BPA’s Press Office on 020 8772 4993/4984 or email or
  • The Blood Pressure Association is the UK’s leading blood pressure charity working to lower the nation’s blood pressure and runs Know your Numbers! Week, which provides free blood pressure checks to 250,000 people each year.
  • The High Blood Pressure Foundation is a Scottish charity which aims to improve the understanding, assessment, treatment and public awareness of high blood pressure. It provides vital equipment and carries out fundamental research into the causes of high blood pressure so that it can be prevented or treated more effectively. Call 0131 332 9211 for more details.

Facts about blood pressure:

  • One in three adults in the UK – 16 million – has high blood pressure. A third of these (5 million) don’t know they have the condition.
  • High blood pressure has no obvious signs or symptoms. The only way to find out if you have the condition is to have a blood pressure check.
  • A healthy blood pressure is 120/80mmHg or less. If readings are consistently at or above 140/90mmHg, high blood pressure is diagnosed, and action should be taken to lower it.
  • Blood pressure can be lowered by having a healthier lifestyle, and, if necessary, by taking prescribed blood pressure lowering medicine.

Top five tips for a healthy blood pressure:

  1. Cut down on salt – don’t add it when cooking or at the table and check food labels to make sure you don’t eat more than 6g a day
  2. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least five different portions every day
  3. Watch your weight – try to reach the right weight for your height
  4. Exercise regularly – that doesn’t have to mean the gym, how about a regular lunchtime walk? 30 minutes five times a week is ideal.
  5. Drink alcohol in moderation – no more than 3-4 units a day for men and no more than 2-3 units for women.

More on how to lower your blood pressure

Topics: BPA in the news, High Blood Pressure in the news, Lifestyle, Measurement, High blood pressure

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