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Controlling high blood pressure helps people protect their heart health

The NHS in Wakefield is marking May Measure Month, which aims to educate and increase awareness of hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, by encouraging residents to look after their heart and check their high blood pressure.

Father and daughter

The yearly worldwide awareness campaign aims to highlight the importance of understanding what hypertension is and how it can affect our future health.

High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms, but if untreated, it increases the risk of people developing serious health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. According to the latest figures in West Yorkshire alone there are more than 69,545 people with high blood pressure that is untreated or whose blood pressure is not under control. This means that in the next three years more than 1,040 people are at risk of a stroke or heart attack.¹

Across Wakefield district, we are working with the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership and the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) to deliver the Healthy Hearts initiative, that provides extra support to general practices to identify patients who might need help to control their hypertension. Initiatives like Healthy Hearts are critical to raising awareness of the importance of looking after your heart and spotting early signs of a heart attack or stroke.

The only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to have a blood pressure test. If your blood pressure is too high, it can do massive damage. It narrows the blood vessels and can cause strokes and heart attacks, angina, heart failure, kidney failure and narrowed leg arteries. High blood pressure is the largest single known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and related disability.

We want people to get their blood pressure checked by either attending their GP surgery by appointment, going into a community pharmacy and asking for a check there or buying a blood pressure monitor in a pharmacy or online. Anyone over the age of 40 years old can also ask their GP for a NHS Health Check where they will check your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

The Healthy Hearts team is working closely with the local NHS Commissioning Groups, third sector organisations and community pharmacists to better support patients with a high risk of cardiovascular disease. The focus is on identifying people with undiagnosed high blood pressure and provide GPs with the latest advice and guidance on the most effective treatments.

As a result of this work, almost 22,000 additional patients have been added to the hypertension register to date, where they’ve received a high blood pressure diagnosis and will thereby receive appropriate support. Meanwhile, 17,000 patients are now receiving treatment in order to help prevent future heart attacks or strokes.

Pete Waddingham, Programme Manager at Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “Early detection and treatment of hypertension can help patients live longer, healthier lives. It is important people understand that it is never too late to look after their heart and there are lots of things people can do to prevent heart disease including leading healthier lives by eating more fruit and vegetables, drinking less alcohol, stopping smoking and starting to exercise more”.

If you would like to find out which community pharmacies offer a blood pressure check please visit Find a pharmacy - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Or if you would like more information about how to control your blood pressure please visit https://www.westyorkshireandharrogatehealthyhearts.co.uk/blood-pressure 

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¹Source: UCLPartners ‘Size of the Prize’ 2022 UCLPartners Proactive Care Framework: Atrial Fibrillation – managing AF and cardiovascular risk (pcdn.co)

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