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#KnowYour Numbers by checking your blood pressure regularly

When did you last check your blood pressure?

Know Your Numbers! week - a national campaign by Blood Pressure UK - raises awareness about the importance of checking your blood pressure.

If you’re one of the eight million people in England with diagnosed high blood pressure, make sure you’re regularly checking yours – at least once a year – as regular monitoring and clinical management with medication and lifestyle changes significantly reduces your risk of stroke and heart attack.

You can get your blood pressure checked at several places. From October 2021, every NHS pharmacy in England will be able to provide the lifesaving checks to people aged 40 or over.

You can also get it checked at an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults in England aged 40-74, at home or at your local GP surgery.

Find resources and more information, including about monitoring your blood pressure at home at: NHS UK and British Heart Foundation.

How knowing your numbers can be life-changing: Olly's story 

NHS Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Communications Manager Olly Hemans knows all too well how monitoring your blood pressure can be life-changing. 

Three years ago, home and work stresses impacted him severely and left him struggling with regular headaches and eyesight problems; only for him to realise after the help of a close nursing colleague and using her blood pressure monitor, his result was 170/110.  

"The readings terrified me and I thought it was nothing more than fatigue-related, and I thought I was physically ok," says Olly. 

After this startling realisation, Olly - who has worked for NHS Frimley CCG for more than five years - then required immediate medical help the next day after not feeling well; securing a timely GP appointment. 

With initial results showing slightly raised cholesterol but otherwise 'normal readings and a textbook' electrocardiogram, Olly was still recommended to make life-changing lifestyle changes. 

"I've always enjoyed generally good health, so when you consider what high blood pressure can do if left unchecked - strokes, heart attacks etc - it was vital I made a change," adds Olly. 

Following his blood test results and the GP's analysis that his blood pressure dropped dramatically after a short time of being seated and breathing deeply, instead of medication, Olly was advised to do gentle exercises, country walks, dietary changes, yoga and mindfulness. 

By seeking the right support and making tailored changes, Olly found just a few months later his blood pressure while raised, was much lower and admits knowing his numbers has really helped. 

He says: "I feel much better and healthier than I did and I no longer suffer headaches or have the same eyesight problems. 

"I would not have realised so soon that there was a problem if it weren't for a quick and easy blood pressure test revealing those two scary numbers." 

With a healthier diet, weight loss and a more active lifestyle - including mountain biking, occasional yoga and home weight training, Olly, who now uses his own 'quick and easy' blood pressure device adds: "Now I know how important it is to test my blood pressure, I see it as a completely normal thing to do and a good indicator of my health."

Helping you to stay well 

If you need support to maintain good health and wellbeing, you can stay well like Olly, by using our Helping you to stay well pages on the ICS website, here.  

Frimley Health and Care