Pharmacy blood pressure checks could save 4,400 lives

Free checks for over 40s are expected to save twice as many lives as predicted a year ago


Last October, community pharmacies across England were set to offer free blood pressure checks to people aged 40 and over thanks to a new deal with the NHS. One year on and 8,423 pharmacists have signed up – more than double the number expected – predicted to save 5,500 heart attacks, 8,140 strokes and 4,400 lives over five years.

NHS England predicts that 5.5 million people will take up checks, around 550,000 of whom are likely to need treatment to lower their blood pressure.

Free checks in pharmacies mean there’s no need to wait for an appointment with the GP. Pharmacists receive funding for each check and people with high readings will be referred to their GP for lifestyle advice and treatment if they need it.

In the UK there are about five million adults (one in nine) who have high blood pressure but don’t know it, putting them at risk of heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure is highly treatable, and getting a diagnosis means people can make lifestyle changes or take medicines if necessary to help prevent serious illnesses.

The service forms part of the NHS long term plan which aims to prevent more than 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases by picking up disease in the early stages, before serious disease develops. 

Dr Shahed Ahmad, National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Getting checked at your local pharmacy is quick and straightforward, and could add years to your life by getting the treatment or medication you need earlier. If you’re eligible please do take up your free test soon.”

Phil Pyatt, CEO of Blood Pressure UK says: “The number of people being diagnosed with high blood pressure fell during the pandemic as people couldn’t see their GP and it has not yet come back up to pre-pandemic levels. Free checks in pharmacies help close the gap so that people can get the life-saving treatment they need.”