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Blood pressure facts and figures

 

The essential statistics on high blood pressure in the UK and why it’s a problem. 

  • When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries and your heart, which can lead to strokes, heart attacks and other health problems.
  • High blood pressure is responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks [1]. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease and vascular dementia[2].
  • In the UK, high blood pressure is the third biggest risk factor for all disease after smoking and poor diet[3].
  • Around one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure. In England, 31% of men and 26% of women have high blood pressure[4].
  • Half of people with high blood pressure are not diagnosed or receiving treatment[5]. In England alone, there are more than five million people that are undiagnosed[6].
  • High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms which is why it is called the ‘silent killer’. The only way to know you have the condition is to get your blood pressure measured.
  • High blood pressure costs the NHS over £2.1 billion every year[7].
  • Every blood pressure reading consists of two numbers, shown as one number on top of the other. The first (top) number is your systolic blood pressure. It is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats. The second (or bottom) number is your diastolic blood pressure. It is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.
  • An ideal blood pressure reading is between 90/60mmHg (millimetres of mercury) and 120/80mmHg.
  • You have high blood pressure if your readings are consistently above 140/90mmHg.
  • Every 10mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events by 20%[8].
  • High blood pressure is one of the most preventable and treatable health conditions. However, between 50-80% of people with high blood pressure do not take all of their prescribed medication[9].
  • Someone with high blood pressure that is well controlled reduces their risk of stroke and heart disease to almost that of a person who does not have high blood pressure.
  • Each 2mmHg rise in systolic blood pressure is associated with a 7% increased risk of death from coronary heart disease and a 10% increased risk of death from stroke[10].
  • High blood pressure was responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths in the UK in 2015.
  • Reducing the average systolic blood pressure of the nation by just 5mmHg over 10 years would save £850million of NHS and Social Care spend[12].
  • High blood pressure accounts for 12% of all GP appointments in England[13]

 

[1] Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017

[2] Public Health England, Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017

[3] Public Health England, Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017

[4] Health Survey for England 2015

[5] British Heart Foundation, Cardiovascular Disease Statistics Factsheet UK, 21 June 2017

[6] Public Health England, Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017

[7] Public Health England, Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017

[8] Public Health England, Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017

[9] Public Health England, Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017

[10] NICE Guidance, Hypertension in adults: diagnosis and management, November 2016

[11] Global Burden of Disease Report 2015.

[12] Public Health England: New opportunities to tackle high blood pressure in London. December 2015, presentation by Jamie Waterall

[13] Public Health England: New opportunities to tackle high blood pressure in London. December 2015, presentation by Jamie Waterall

 

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