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Britain under pressure - the blood pressure 'ticking time bomb'

 The credit crunch is taking a dramatic toll on the nation’s health, diet and fitness and is putting us at risk of a blood pressure 'ticking time bomb,' warns UK charity the Blood Pressure Association.

Almost 29 million people in the UK – that’s nearly two-thirds of the nation - feel more stressed, less fit and healthy, and more prone to illness than they did just three years ago, according to 'the 'Britain Under Pressure' report released at the start of the Blood Pressure Association's Know your Numbers! Week 2008 (8-14 September).

The report, launched today (Monday 8 September) by Friends Provident and the Blood Pressure Association, revealed that diet and exercise are losing out to the credit crunch, with more than half (56 per cent) of the UK buying cheaper food as a cost cutting measure, 15 per cent cutting spending on fresh fruit and vegetables, and almost a quarter (21 per cent) of adults having cut back on gym use this year, many specifically because of the economic situation. 

The charity says these factors can all have a serious effect on blood pressure, yet one in five (20%) admit they know little or nothing about the dangers of blood pressure. 

Professor Graham Macgregor, Chairman of the Blood Pressure Association, said: “It’s clear that Britons are under pressure and this could have serious health consequences. The dual effect on lifestyles of the credit crunch and lack of concern over long term health is putting the nation at risk of a blood pressure ticking time bomb.

"This report has shown that in addition to leading more unhealthy lifestyles which can cause high blood pressure, almost half of those surveyed hadn’t checked their blood pressure in the last year and almost two thirds (61%) didn’t know their blood pressure numbers.

"Around 16 million adults in the UK have high blood pressure which, uncontrolled and undetected, leads to the nation’s biggest killers; strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. This is preventable, but only if people start taking the right action now.

"We are urging everyone to have a free blood pressure check during Know your Numbers! Week and take the first step to reducing their risk." 

The Britain Under Pressure report found:

•    Many respondents are reliant on take-aways and ready meals with more than three quarters (77 per cent) of adults regularly buying ready meals and/or ordering takeaways and it is women (80 per cent) rather than men (72 per cent) leading this trend

•    One in three adults (33 per cent) never or rarely eats the recommended amount of fruit or vegetables

•    Almost one in seven (15%) have cut spending on fresh fruit and vegetables. Even more (16%) expect they will have to cut back on spending on fresh fruit and vegetables in the next six months

•    42 per cent never, or hardly ever, monitor the salt content of their food

•    Seven per cent admit they have already started drinking more alcohol than before the crunch, and nine per cent anticipate consuming more alcohol during the next six months

•    Half (50 per cent) of UK adults admit they do absolutely nothing to keep blood pressure at healthy levels.

 •   And almost one in five (18 per cent) say they just get on with living their lives without much thought to their health.

These are all potential risk factors for high blood pressure, warns the Blood Pressure Association.

The Blood Pressure Association’s Know your Numbers! Week, the nation’s biggest blood pressure testing event, runs from 8-14 September. More than 3,000 Pressure Stations run by healthcare professionals will be providing free blood pressure checks nationwide, from City Hall in London to a village hall on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. Celebrities including actors Prunella Scales, Timothy West, presenter Michael Aspel, Rudolph Walker (Eastenders) and Angela Wynter (Eastenders) are backing the event.

Visit www.bpassoc.org.uk/kyn or call 020 8772 4994 for Pressure Stations locations.


For further media information contact:

For interviews with Blood Pressure Association experts and/or details and photos of celebrities supporting this year's Know your Numbers! Week, contact the Blood Pressure Association's Press Office 020 8772 4984/4993 or  07961 154077


Peter Timberlake    Friends Provident    0845 641 7834
Lorna Wiltshire    Friends Provident    0845 641 7836
Keith Nolan    Friends Provident    0845 641 7835

The research:

The Britain Under Pressure research and report was commissioned by Friends Provident and is based on independent research undertaken by The Next Big Thing in August 2008.

The research for the Britain Under Pressure report was undertaken using two focus groups. A OnePoll survey was also conducted by 72 Point in August 2008 and surveyed 2,713 adults across the UK.

About the Blood Pressure Association:

The Blood Pressure Association is the UK's blood pressure charity working to lower the nation's blood pressure. It provides information and support to people with high blood pressure and raises awareness to help prevent the condition. High blood pressure affects one in three adults in the UK (16 million) yet a third are unware they have the conditon because it doesn't have obvious symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure and can also cause dementia and kidney disease. Visit www.bpassoc.org.uk or call 020 8772 4994 for more information.

Friends Provident:

Friends Provident is a leading UK financial services group and a constituent of the FTSE100 Index. Founded in 1832 to alleviate the hardship of Quaker families facing misfortune, Friends Provident remains committed to achieving high standards of corporate behaviour and accountability.

In the UK, Friends Provident provides a range of protection, pensions and investment products for individual customers and corporate clients.Friends Provident International operates across territories in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Friends Provident wholly owns the Luxembourg-based company Lombard International Assurance, which specialises in the use of life assurance as a specialist wealth management structure for high net-worth investors.

Friends Provident holds a majority stake in F&C Asset Management plc - managing funds of some £104bn (as at 31 December 2007) and marketing a wide range of investment products both to personal and institutional customers.

About Friends Provident Protection Business:

Friends Provident has been writing term assurance since the company’s foundation in 1832 and income protection business since 1882.

Our award winning eSelect system offers online underwriting for term assurance, critical illness and waiver of premium, capable of accepting on ordinary rates or with special terms.

The majority of Friends Provident’s new protection business is transacted online. This process allows end-to-end online electronic processing and account servicing ranging from new business quotations to new business tracking.

For more information on Friends Provident including, images, awards, fast facts, presentations, and media contacts please visit the media section at www.friendsprovident.com/media

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