May Measurement Month: Know your numbers to help take the pressure off
It's May Measurement Month and health services from East Berkshire to Farnham are raising awareness to protect people from a silent killer.
Roughly a third of adults in the UK have hypertension (high or raised blood pressure), yet many of them are unaware of the problem. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease – raised blood pressure is the number one cause of preventable death* worldwide.
Throughout the month health organisations will be working to highlight the importance of measuring blood pressure and seeking to increase the numbers of people over the age of 18 who check theirs on a regular basis.
A series of initiatives is being developed and used within the Frimley Health and Care area to help local people find out their blood pressure, and to support those at risk in addressing the problem.
Different schemes include:
- providing blood pressure monitors in selected community venues for potentially vulnerable or isolated members of the public to use.
- a ‘blood pressure bus’ crewed by trained professionals, to visit targeted locations to test people, with the ability to enter results into a person’s medical record, give advice and initiate treatment.
- GPs identifying individuals among their patient lists who may be at risk of high blood pressure and offering them the use of a blood pressure test kit.
- blood pressure tests being offered to people attending for Covid-19 vaccination, providing a valuable screening service at people’s convenience.
- Blood Pressure at Home – where at risk groups are supported to manage hypertension from their own homes.
Helping people to tackle the hidden danger of high blood pressure is part of Frimley Health and Care’s ‘Living Well’ ambition, which is a programme aimed at supporting all people to have the opportunity to live healthier lives, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are. The ambition is for everyone to have more years of healthy life, with more opportunities in education, work, accommodation, with healthier lifestyle choices and increased wellbeing.
Sam Burrows, Frimley Health and Care Programme Director said: “If you know you have a particular health condition, not only can you do something about it yourself, you can seek professional help for it if needed.
“If you have a serious health condition but you’re completely unaware, it may get more dangerous as time goes on.
“With raised blood pressure associated with a wide range of serious health problems, it’s so important that you get your blood pressure checked. It’s quick, painless and it could make all the difference to the rest of your life.”
Blood pressure can be caused by a range of factors and as a result there is a variety of potential treatments. These include a range of lifestyle changes – particularly around weight loss, diet and regular exercise – and can also involve breathing exercises, mindfulness or yoga. In some cases people may be prescribed medication to help control their blood pressure.
There are many low-cost blood pressure monitors that people can buy to use at home. If you would like to get your own monitor but you’re not sure which ones are reliable, you’ll find advice on the British and Irish Hypertension Society’s website: https://bihsoc.org/bp-monitors/for-home-use/
Anyone worried about their blood pressure can find more information on diagnosis and treatment here: www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension