We urge all adults to check their blood pressure as routine and in tandem, reduce their salt intake
Apathy is the Silent Killer as Nearly 40% of UK Adults Ignore Need to Check Blood Pressure Which Could Prevent 136,000 Related Cardiovascular Diseases
Despite being one of the biggest single (and preventable) causes of death in the UK as it has no obvious symptoms, only 8% of the UK population consider heart disease and stroke to be their biggest health fear – with many showing a lack of concern towards reducing their risk. That’s according to a NEW survey by national charity, Blood Pressure UK to mark Know Your Numbers! Week (6-12 September).
Whilst measuring your blood pressure (i.e. using a home blood pressure monitor, at a pharmacy or with a practice nurse) is the most important first step any adult can take to help reduce their chances of having a stroke, heart attack or heart failure – astonishingly, over a third (37%) of respondents state their blood pressure is not of concern. A further third (39%) of people do not understand why they should know their blood pressure numbers (nor have they checked their blood pressure since March 2020) – despite two thirds (64%) being aware of the associated (and deadly) health dangers.
With nearly 6 million people in the UK unaware of their blood pressure numbers, yet live daily with undiagnosed high blood pressure, Blood Pressure UK is urging all adults (of all ages) to check their blood pressure as routine and in tandem, reduce their salt intake. The more people tested, to enable them to control their high blood pressure, the more premature deaths will be prevented. This coincides with Public Health England’s (2021) report which revealed there were over 5,000 more CVD and stroke deaths than expected last year, with half of these attributable to disruptions to normal healthcare services.
Whilst the evidence is clear regarding those more likely to be seriously affected by a Covid-19 infection (i.e. people who are older, have existing long-term medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or uncontrolled blood sugar, kidney disease or are overweight), a worrying two thirds (62%) of the population claim the pandemic has not made them want to improve their general health – with a quarter (26%) saying they simply have ‘other priorities to focus on.’
From the survey findings, cancer is ranked the most feared disease (20%), followed by Covid-19 (17%) and mental health (15%). Despite this, one fifth of the population has absolutely no health fears.
Of those (37%) who have made positive changes to their health during the pandemic, around half (56%) have now started eating more healthily (including fresh fruit and vegetables), 54% became more active and 41% are eating less salty, sugary and fatty foods. Research shows that eating too much salt is a major cause of high blood pressure, particularly the rise in blood pressure with age. As a nation, if we cut one gram of salt from our average daily salt intake, this would cause a fall in blood pressure and there would be approximately 6,000 fewer deaths from strokes and heart attacks each year in the UK.
Phil Pyatt, CEO of Blood Pressure UK comments:
“We must remind everyone that high blood pressure doesn’t show clear symptoms, hence the ‘silent killer’ reputation. That’s why it’s so important to take control of your health by Knowing Your Numbers as well as benefitting from simple improvements in diet and lifestyle such as eating less salt, more fruit and vegetables and doing more exercise.”
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK says:
“Half of all strokes and heart disease are due to high blood pressure. It is therefore vital that high blood pressure is detected early and treated. Everyone needs to take control of their health by checking their blood pressure either at home, at a pharmacy or with their practice nurse. This could save your life.”
Hemini Bharadia, Know Your Numbers! Week Marketing Manager explains:
"With nearly 6 million people in the UK unaware of their blood pressure numbers and our survey revealing that one in three (37%) respondents say their blood pressure is not of concern, we encourage the public to take control of their health and get their blood pressure checked. Since high blood pressure is largely symptomless, home monitoring can really help people to feel more in control of their condition. Whilst there is a wide range of home blood pressure monitors available, remember to choose one with an upper cuff which is the right size for your arm and make sure it’s UK approved."
To find out more visit: bloodpressureuk.org
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About Blood Pressure UK
Blood Pressure UK is the UK’s leading blood pressure charity working to lower the nation’s blood pressure to prevent disability and death from stroke and heart disease. The charity provides information and support for people with high blood pressure and raises awareness to prevent the condition. Blood Pressure UK is the operating name of the Blood Pressure Association, charity reg. 1058944.
Facts about blood pressure from Blood Pressure UK:
- 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.
- Untreated high blood pressure is the major risk factor for strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. It is also a major risk factor for kidney disease and dementia.
- A healthy blood pressure is a level of 120/80mmHg or less.
- A blood pressure of 121/81mmHg to 139/89mmHg is on the high side and lifestyle changes such as eating less salt, more fruit and veg and losing weight if necessary should be advised.
- If readings are consistently at or above 140/90mmHg, high blood pressure is diagnosed, and action should be taken to lower it by leading a healthier lifestyle, and, if necessary, by taking medication as directed by your doctor.
How Can I Check My Blood Pressure at Home?
Avoid tobacco, alcohol, exercise, and caffeine a half hour before you take a reading.
Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable chair.
Arm resting at chest height, back supported and feet flat on the floor.
Follow your monitor's instruction booklet to position the cuff properly against bare skin on the upper arm and inflate it. Cuff should be at heart level.
Check the readings.
Finally, establish a routine for checking your blood pressure at home.
Whilst there is a wide range of home blood pressure monitors available, it is important to be sure that the blood pressure monitor you choose is accurate and the right cost for you. Remember to choose one with an upper cuff which is the right size for your arm and make sure it’s UK approved.
Quarantine your monitor for a minimum of 24 hrs after using it, or use a plastic bag or plastic gloves to cover and handle the machine – it will still work through a plastic layer – then throw the plastic away after use.
Make sure you wash your hands before and after using your machine. If your friend or family member are unable to operate the machine themselves and you check their blood pressure for them, make sure you're both wearing face masks.
You can measure your blood pressure at home or in a healthcare setting, our simple guidelines are available free on our website: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/your-blood-pressure/how-to-lower-your-blood-pressure/monitoring-your-blood-pressure-at-home/
Blood Pressure UK's 'Top five tips for a healthy blood pressure':
- Cut down on salt – Reducing your salt intake it the quickest way to lower your blood pressure. Don’t add it when cooking or at the table, avoid using stock cubes, gravy and soy sauce, check food labels and avoid processed foods high in salt – aim to eat less than 6g a day.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least five different portions every day.
- Watch your weight – try to reach the right weight for your height.
- Exercise regularly – that doesn’t have to mean the gym, how about a regular lunchtime walk? 30 minutes five times a week is ideal. If you are unsure about taking up exercise, ask your GP.
- Drink alcohol in moderation – up to 14 units a week for both men and women – a glass of wine or a pint of beer is 2-3 units.
 The research was conducted by Censuswide of 2,008 nationally representative sample. Between 17.08.2020-20.08.202. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.
 Using the 16 million figure from PHE for England this has been extrapolated to give a figure of 19 million for the UK.