Our Chair - Professor Graham MacGregor to step down

Our new Chair Dr. Pauline Swift pays tribute to Professor Graham MacGregor as he steps down as Chair after more than 20 years.




After over 20 years since founding the Blood Pressure Association, now known as Blood Pressure UK, our Chair Professor Graham MacGregor is stepping down, and I have been given the great privilege of leading our trustees into the next phase of Blood Pressure UK's future.

Professor MacGregor set up the charity as a patients’ association for high blood pressure as he realised how important it was to try to improve the information available to people living with high blood pressure and to lobby for better prevention and treatment of high blood pressure. For over 20 years he has worked tirelessly to put the need for blood pressure checks and advice and guidance front and centre in helping to prevent unnecessary strokes, dementia, heart and kidney disease.

Today, campaigns like ‘Know Your Numbers!’ Week, now in its 24th year, has helped thousands of people to identify their own raised blood pressure. The message has been simple and consistent over the years and will have helped to save many lives by guiding individuals with raised blood pressure to take the necessary steps to reduce their blood pressure to safer levels.

We, as a community in Blood Pressure UK, are immensely thankful to Graham for his unrelenting hard work and dedication in promoting the voice of individuals with high blood pressure. He trained at Charing Cross Hospital, where he was taught and mentored by the distinguished kidney specialist, Professor Hugh de Wardener. In 1989 he set up the Blood Pressure Unit (BPU) at St Georges Hospital, London, where he was an honorary consultant physician and Professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Medical School there. In 2007, the BPU became recognised as a European Centre of Excellence, which he said was ‘’due mainly to the quality of our nursing and medical staff". Graham knew the importance of his team around him, especially his lead research nurse, Nirmala Markandu.  

Graham MacGregor has researched the effects of salt on high blood pressure and the cardiovascular system over many decades. He is the leading authority on salt and the risk of salt-induced damage to human health. His dedication to raising awareness of this public health threat pushed him to establish and Chair Consensus Action on Salt and Health in 1996, now Consensus Action on Salt. He then established Action on Sugar in 2014. All of this work was done with the sole aim of improving the lives of individuals living with high blood pressure and was rightly recognised in when Graham was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to cardiovascular disease.

I have known Graham for many years now, in fact since I was his junior house officer in 1995. His greatest accolade and the one that he would be most at peace with, is the number of lives that have been saved and the number of strokes and heart attacks that have been prevented as a direct result of his work and pressure on Governments to regulate salt consumption. I also know that he will continue to campaign for improvements in legislation.

Although he is stepping down as Chair, he will remain a trustee of Blood Pressure UK which we are very pleased about.

Of course, none of the work that Graham and his colleagues have done and continue to do, can be done without the dedication and support of the Blood Pressure UK community, whether our members, those who promote our work or those who have been so generous in raising much-needed funds so that we can support more of those who need it.