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New blood pressure board to tackle high blood pressure
New figures show high blood pressure costs NHS billions each year
New figures from Public Health England (PHE) reveal that diseases caused by high blood pressure are estimated to cost the NHS over £2 billion every year. (i)
Over 5 million people are unaware they have high blood pressure yet it affects more than 1 in 4 adults and is one of the biggest risk factors for premature death and disability in England.
High blood pressure can lead to diseases including heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia and chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure, which can often be prevented or controlled through lifestyle changes, accounts for 12 percent of all visits to GPs in England.
The new figures show:
- by reducing the blood pressure of the nation as a whole, £850 million of NHS and social care spend could be avoided over 10 years
- if just 15 percent more people who do not know they have high blood pressure are diagnosed, £120 million of NHS and social care spend could be avoided over 10 years
- if another 15 percent more people who are currently being treated for high blood pressure controlled it better, a further £120 million of NHS and social care spend could be avoided over 10 years
PHE and a number of partners across local and national government, the health service, voluntary sector and academia have come together with the ambition improving the prevention, early detection and management of high blood pressure in England.
The new group today publishes an action plan setting out the steps towards emulating the success of other countries, such as the US and Canada. Both the US and Canada have higher levels of treatment and better control of high blood pressure which has led to lower death rates from heart disease and stroke.
Sonya Brennan from Lewisham said: “I was diagnosed with high blood pressure after I had an NHS Health Check and it was a big wake-up call for me. I was very surprised as I had no symptoms but it has encouraged me to get active and I was referred to a health trainer. I’ve now lost five stone and lowered my blood pressure".
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “Any new initiative which will improve people’s health and wellbeing as well as saving the NHS money is to be applauded. Our goal is to prevent people from developing high blood pressure in the first place – by helping people to eat better, lose weight, exercise more and reduce stress. More and more people every year are taking advantage of the essential advice being offered through the free NHS Health Check, and I would encourage everyone invited to a free Health Check to take up the offer".
Dr Janet Atherton, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health said: “We welcome this partnership approach – and our challenge now is to implement the action plan rapidly and comprehensively. Population prevention measures - such as reducing salt in the diet and tackling obesogenic environments - alongside better early detection and treatment, will mean that rapid improvements in the public’s health can be achieved, together with significant savings to a hard-pressed health and social care system".
Professor Huon Gray National Clinical Director for Heart Disease for NHS England said: “Over half of all strokes and many heart attacks could be prevented by ensuring people take steps to get their blood pressure into the normal range, but, unfortunately, high blood pressure often goes unrecognised. It’s essential that everyone has their blood pressure checked regularly and by taking simple steps like cutting some salt from the diet, or taking more exercise, high blood pressure can be reduced. Left untreated high blood pressure can lead to disability, or even death.”
1. PHE has launched a new blood pressure quiz on NHS Choices. People can now test their knowledge of one of the most common, yet often preventable, conditions: www.nhs.uk/bloodpressurequiz
2. The Blood Pressure System Leadership Board was set up to oversee the collective programme of work on blood pressure including development of this action plan. Chaired by Public Health England, its wider members are Association of Directors of Public Health, Blood Pressure UK, British Heart Foundation, British Hypertension Society, Department of Health, Faculty of Public Health, Local Government Association, NHS England, NHS Improving Quality, Pharmacy Voice and the Royal College of General Practitioners
3. The board’s action plan sets out the ambition of improving the prevention, early detection and management of high blood pressure. It shows the roles different partners can play to tackle this important issue. “Tackling High Blood Pressure: From Evidence into Action” is available at: (embargoed copy available upon request)
4. PHE is also making a resource hub bringing together case studies, data and guidance to support local leadership on high blood pressure: www.gov.uk/phe
5. Optimity Matrix carried out a new economic review as part of the evidence considered in developing the board’s work. Their economic work underpins the financial figures in this release, and is available at: www.optimitymatrix.com/events/optimity-matrix-report-cost-effectiveness-review-of-blood-pressure-interventions-is-published
6. Key lifestyle steps to prevent or help manage high blood pressure include losing weight if you need to, eating a healthy diet (rich in fruit and vegetables, low in salt), exercising regularly, and cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol.
7. The NHS Health Check is an opportunity to engage 15 million people to live well for longer. Those aged 40-74 in England are assessed and enabled to take control over their own health, taking early action to reduce their risk of developing serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of dementia.
8. Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Website: www.gov.uk/phe Twitter: @PHE_uk, Facebook: www.facebook.com/PublicHealthEngland
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Annex A - additional partner quotes - Blood Pressure System Leadership Board members
Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said: "Too many people are dying prematurely from preventable conditions and high blood pressure plays a big part in this. It is vital for partners to come together to tackle this – from local government, to the health service and charities we all have a role to play.
“We know that people from the most deprived areas are 30% more likely to have high blood pressure than those from the least deprived and in tackling the condition we can take an important step towards reducing health inequalities.”
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK said: “There are over 5 million people walking around like a ticking time bomb, unaware that they are at risk of having a stroke or a heart attack due to their blood pressure.
“High blood pressure is the UK’s biggest silent killer, so Blood Pressure UK are delighted Public Health England are launching this plan to help prevent, identify and treat those with high blood pressure.
“It is largely preventable; we can all learn to lower our blood pressure just by making simple lifestyle changes such as lowering your salt intake and taking more exercise. The first step is to find out your blood pressure by getting it measured, it might save your life".
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said: “High blood pressure produces no symptoms until it causes a heart attack or a stroke, yet it is easily detectible and easily treated.
“It is simply unacceptable that so many avoidable heart attacks and strokes are occurring when the solution is so simple.
“The British Heart Foundation is strongly behind Public Health England’s new action plan. By identifying people with high blood pressure and treating them we will have an enormous impact on the future health of our nation".
Professor Tony Heagerty, British Hypertension Society said: “Many adults in England have unacceptably high blood pressure which increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Also there is clear evidence that any measures that are recognised to lower blood pressure will reduce those risks and with regard to stroke, that risk is diminished almost immediately.
“Therefore the British Hypertension Society is pleased to be associated with the development of this document which if implemented will have an enormous impact on the health of the nation and in particular will see a reduction in the prevalence of heart disease and stroke. The measures included involve changes in diet with improvement in physical activity as well as better detection and management of blood pressure once it is diagnosed.
“The reduction in costs to the National Health Service in treating these diseases will far outweigh any funding issues with regard to pharmacological treatment. The British Hypertension Society will work hard to make sure that it is actively involved in all elements of the programme.”
Dr John Middleton, Vice President for Policy at Faculty of Public Health said: "Hypertension is a complex issue with many causes. It's not just a health issue: for example, fuel poverty has an impact on hypertension, as does stress in the workplace, which is why we need to take a holistic approach to tackling it.
"Public health professionals must play their part in reducing blood pressure by improving health. Heavy alcohol consumption and physical inactivity are major factors in high blood pressure, along with obesity and high salt consumption. That is why FPH believes a minimum unit price for alcohol is vital.”
Counsellor Jonathan McShane, Local Government Association, Chair of the Public Health System Group said: “Too many people in England have high blood pressure and either don't know it, or do not have the condition under control. We have an opportunity to address this largely preventable condition and the action plan sets out the collaborative work to do just this.”
Hilary Walker, Head of the Living Longer Lives programme, NHS Improving Quality said: “This document sets out an ambition for dramatic improvement in reducing high blood pressure. It provides impetus, insight and resource to support partners across all sectors to contribute to this and I fully support Public Health England’s vision. We are looking at opportunities to work together and hope that NHS Improving Quality can support transformational change by spreading and implementing best practice to tackle high blood pressure.”
Rob Darracott, Chief Executive at Pharmacy Voice said: “Whether it’s helping people stop smoking, or lose weight, or supporting people with antihypertensive medication to use their medicines more effectively, community pharmacists can have a positive impact on the blood pressure of the public. Pharmacy Voice has been pleased to contribute to the development of this action plan, and we will be supporting its implementation in 2015 and beyond by defining how pharmacists might better identify people with high blood pressure and improve outcomes for those diagnosed.”
Dr George Kassianos, Royal College of General Practitioners said: “Raised blood pressure is a common denominator of a number of chronic diseases. Good management of raised blood pressure decreases considerably patients’ cardiovascular risk. GPs play an important part in helping people live without disease and disability and the emphasis on preventing raised blood pressure in their everyday practice is critical to this.”
(i) The cost to the NHS in England from diseases caused by high blood pressure is estimated as £2.1 billion per year – this is based on blood pressure attributable coronary heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia and chronic kidney disease. There are further costs of high blood pressure including clinical time, cost of medication to manage the condition and the impact on social care and the wider economy.
You can also download the group's action plan below.