From today (Monday 4 September) the NHS in the South West is calling on people, over 40 years old, to get their blood pressure checked as part of a drive to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
The campaign is being backed by local community pharmacies who can offer free blood pressure checks in store.
One in three adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it.
In Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, identifying an additional 14,084 people with high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension, could prevent 96 heart attacks and 144 strokes.
Dr Michael Marsh, Regional Medical Director for NHS England South West, said: “High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if left untreated, it increases problems such as heart attacks and strokes.”
The only way to find if you’re blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.
Dr Marsh said: “Getting your blood pressure tested is easy to do and could save your life. You can either go to your local community pharmacy or measure it yourself at home with a cheap and easy-to-use machine.
“Once you know your blood pressure is too high, the NHS can give you advice on how to start bringing it down.
“You might not necessarily need medication as there is a lot you can do to reduce blood pressure by making healthy lifestyle changes.”
Dr Geeta Iyer, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB, said: “Without a simple and free blood pressure check, the first sign of high blood pressure could be a life ending or life changing event, such as a heart attack or stroke.
“Despite the significant conditions high blood pressure can cause, it is easily treatable.
“The first step is knowing your numbers. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone, particularly anyone over 40, to visit their local pharmacy, use an at-home blood pressure device, or attend your NHS health check with your GP when you’re invited to get tested.”
For more information on the importance of a blood pressure check, knowing what those number mean and what to do next visit https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/our-work/know-your-numbers/