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Charity reveals UKs high blood pressure hot spots

A shocking proportion of the UK public needs to take action to reduce their blood pressure, warns UK charity the Blood Pressure Association (BPA) as new research[1]  reveals the nation’s high blood pressure hot spots.

Data gathered during the BPA’s Know your Numbers! Week has revealed that a third of people (34 per cent) tested during the UK-wide event had high blood pressure readings*.

Every day 350 people across the UK have a preventable heart attack or stroke caused by high blood pressure.[2] The condition is also a major risk factor for heart and kidney disease, and there’s increasing evidence that it’s a risk factor for vascular dementia.

A staggering lack of awareness of blood pressure was also discovered during Know your Numbers! Week, with 71 per cent of those tested admitting they did not know their blood pressure numbers.

Across the UK, Northern Ireland had the highest incidence of high blood pressure readings at 36 per cent of those tested, with England following closely behind at 34 per cent, then Wales at 32 per cent and Scotland at 29 per cent.

Bottom of the ‘high blood pressure hot spots league’ regionally were those tested in the West Midlands (see table below) where 39 per cent had high blood pressure readings.

Even in the region which topped the league with the ‘lowest’ incidence – South Central where 29 per cent had high blood pressure readings – almost one in three had high blood pressure readings.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of UK charity the Blood Pressure Association, said: “High blood pressure is a symptomless condition which causes half of all strokes and heart attacks in the UK, so it is extremely worrying that a third of the adults we tested had high blood pressure readings.

“Fortunately, those tested during Know your Numbers! Week now know what their blood pressure numbers are and how to lower them.

“We at the Blood Pressure Association urge everyone in the UK to be blood pressure aware and get to know how they can achieve a healthy blood pressure, so that we can stop the needless death and disability caused by this ‘silent killer’.”

For more information, visit or call the BPA’s Blood Pressure Information Line on 0845 241 0989 (11am-3pm, Mon-Fri).


For further information or to interview an expert, contact Anna Cureton at the BPA’s Press Office on 020 8772 4993/4984.

‘High Blood Pressure Hot Spots League’ – Know your Numbers! Week 2009

 Area  % 'High' readings % Unaware of bp numbers 
 England   34 71 
 South Central 29 70
 East of England 32 57
 North West 32 79
 South East 32 64
 Yorks & Humber 32 68
 South West 34 73
 London & Middlx 35 73
 East Midlands 36 75
 North East 36 75
 West Midlands 39 76
 Scotland 29 77
 Wales 32 64
 N. Ireland 36 63
 UK total 34 71

* High blood pressure is diagnosed as readings consistently at or above 140/90mmHg. Optimal blood pressure readings are consistently less than 120/80mmHg. Once diagnosed, high blood pressure can be very successfully managed with medicine or lifestyle changes.

The BPA recommends five steps to reduce your blood pressure:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables – ideally more than five portions a day
  • Eat less than 6g of salt a day – check food labels and try not to add salt while cooking or at the table
  • Be active for at least 30 minutes five times a week
  • Drink alcohol in moderation – 3-4 units a day for men, 2-3 units for women
  • Keep to the right weight for your height, and lose weight if you need to

[1] The Blood Pressure Association’s Know your Numbers! Week is the nation’s biggest blood pressure testing event. 103,000 adults had a free blood pressure check during Know your Numbers! 2009, which took place 7-13 September 2009. The BPA’s research is based on a sample of 24,142 blood pressure readings recorded during Know your Numbers! Week 2009.

[2]Source: He FJ, MacGregor GA. Cost of poor blood pressure control in the UK: 62,000 unnecessary deaths per year. J Hum Hypertens. 2003;17:455-7.

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