Thousands with high blood pressure undiagnosed

editorial image
Share this article

Thousands of people in the borough don’t know they have high blood pressure, new figures have shown.

Public Health England (PHE) have released hypertension (high blood pressure) profiles of each local authority area in a bid to raise awareness of how many people are going undiagnosed.

The profile shows that St Helens is good at testing and diagnosing high blood pressure but residents are putting themselves at a higher risk of developing hypertension because of risk factors such as excess weight, lack of exercise and drinking above recommended limits – all of which contribute to high blood pressure.

PHE has combined and weighted the lifestyle risks in each area to produce an overall hypertension ranking for each local authority with St. Helens coming 298 out of 326.

International comparison shows that there is significant scope for improvement. In Canada, for example, seven out of every 10 adults with high blood pressure are both diagnosed and managed to recommended levels whereas in England we only achieve this in four out of 10.

In St. Helens the percentage of hypertension detected and controlled to 150/90 is 52.1 per cent. In

order to match the achievement of Canada a further 7,100 people would need to receive treatment and have their blood pressure controlled.

Continuous high blood pressure is often present without any symptoms and is now the fourth most common risk factor to death and disability in England, and can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, chronic kidney disease and dementia.

St Helens Council’s Public Health Department estimates around 17,000 individuals may have high blood pressure and are not aware.

It’s Public Health’s aim to test as many people as possible, to provide information on their numbers (blood pressure scores), to provide health and lifestyle advice and where blood pressure levels are high refer to general practice for medication.

The local authority and the CCG have developed a proactive approach to detecting people with high blood pressure. This has included General Practices testing people once every five years based on NICE guidance and delivering NHS Health Checks for people aged 40-74.

Where high blood pressure is detected, help is given to manage and lower the condition through health advice, referral to alcohol and weight management or physical activity services and medication.

The council also actively tests people in the community and is involved in campaigns such as ‘Know your Numbers’ week when last summer Health Trainers from the Healthy Living Team tested over 200 people in the town centre.

These types of public events will be rolled out through the course of 2016 so that more people in our communities understand the risks of high blood pressure.

A local resident Mike Mcloughlin who recently suffered a stroke urges people to understand more about their blood pressure.

He said: “After my stroke I now know it’s vital for people to have regular preventive blood pressure checks.”

Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing said: “Whilst local services are very good at finding people in the community with high blood pressure, we need the public to know their blood pressure numbers, understand what a healthy blood pressure is and how they can help to reduce their blood pressure through good diet, reducing their salt intake, being a healthy weight and drinking sensibly.

“People aged 40-74 without pre-existing cardio-vascular problems can have a full check for their heart health through the NHS Health Check Programme by either asking their general practice for a Health Check or calling 0300 300 0103 to book an appointment with the council’s Health Trainers.”

Dr Stephen Cox, Clinical Chief Executive, NHS St Helens CCG said: “The dangerous thing about hypertension is that it can go unnoticed, with no obvious symptoms, although some people complain of headaches, stress or


“We encourage everyone over the age of 40 to have their blood pressure checked through the NHS Health Check process in their GP surgery. However, if you are over 40 and have a close relative with high blood pressure it would be more appropriate to have your blood pressure checked on an annual basis at your practice.

“If you have any symptoms that concern you, please consult your GP.”