High street pharmacies to roll out free blood pressure checks

Pharmacies across England will offer free checks to over 40s thanks to a deal with the NHS


High blood pressure is known as a silent killer because it has no symptoms but can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and the only way to know you have it is to get a blood pressure check. From this October, high street pharmacies in England will start offering free checks to people aged 40 and over so that they find out if they have high blood pressure and start getting treatment. 

Predictions show that if 2.5 million people get their blood pressure checked, an extra 250,000 people could receive treatment. The NHS estimates that the tests could prevent 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks and save 2,000 lives over the next five years.

The service forms part of the NHS long term plan which aims to prevent heart attacks, strokes and dementia by picking up disease in the early stages, before serious disease develops. 

The roll-out of these services, funded by the NHS, was announced in August as part of the 2021/22 community pharmacy contractual framework. The blood pressure testing service will have two stages. The first is identifying people at risk of high blood pressure and offering them a check, and the second is offering ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) if necessary, along with support and advice. The results will be shared with the person’s GP who can make a diagnosis and offer further tests and treatment.

High blood pressure is often easily treated with medicines and lifestyle changes, and a diagnosis is an essential step in getting treatment. 

Phil Pyatt, CEO of Blood Pressure UK says: “High street pharmacies have played a vital role in protecting people’s health during the pandemic. While they focus on recovering from one pandemic, we are delighted and encouraged to see that they are taking action on another – high blood pressure. It is especially important that they provide this service now as they were not able to host Pressure Stations offering on the spot checks for Know Your Numbers! Week this year due to COVID-19.

There are more than five million people with undiagnosed high blood pressure in England alone, and these checks will be a vital part of getting more people the life-saving diagnosis and treatment they need.”