Collective action on high blood pressure in England: how can we do better?

A collaborative effort is needed to reduce the burden of hypertension in England, a new Public Health England report finds.

26 Jan 2018, by Siobhan Chan

Man with blood pressure cuff attached to a machine

Public Health England’s new report aims to tackle high blood pressure by mobilising support from commissioners, healthcare professionals and the voluntary sector.

A ‘stronger and more focused effort’ is needed to tackle the ongoing challenge of hypertension in England.

That is the verdict of Associate Professor Jamie Waterall, National Lead for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, writing in a new report published this month by Public Health England (PHE).

More than a quarter of adults in England have hypertension, which is linked to at least half of all heart attacks and strokes, as well as being a risk factor for chronic kidney disease, heart failure and vascular dementia.

The new report, Tackling high blood pressure: an update, published on 9 January 2018, updates an action plan for hypertension first produced in 2014. It outlines what more the health system can do to improve the prevention, detection and treatment of high blood pressure.


The BHF contributed to both documents as members of the Blood Pressure System Leadership Board, a cross-sector committee convened by PHE that oversees a programme of work on hypertension.

The update highlights recent progress with nationally implemented hypertension schemes, such as the NHS Health Check programme, the BHF’s innovative blood pressure funding award programme, the BHF and PHE online heart age tool, the Stroke Association's Know your Blood Pressure campaign, and Blood Pressure UK’s Know your Numbers campaign.


Image from PHE report showing what GPs, community pharmacists and healthcare commissioners can do to tackle hypertension

Public Health England’s updated action plan outlines what healthcare professionals can do to have the biggest impact on hypertension. Image courtesy of Public Health England. 

Making Every Contact Count

The report is a further call to action for healthcare professionals, commissioners, government bodies, local authorities and the voluntary sector. It provides evidence-based advice and practical guidance for clinicians on early detection and management of high blood pressure.

It also highlights activities that can have the greatest impact in reaching, detecting and managing 40% of adults in England with undiagnosed hypertension and the 1.6 million people who have had a diagnosis of hypertension but are not currently treated to NICE guidelines1.

“This action plan requires a whole-system response if we are going to reduce the burden of this important risk factor,” the report says. “It requires continued support and collective action from all levels in order to make a significant impact on the reduction of high blood pressure in England.

“It is clear that a lot more can be, and needs to be, done.”

Read the updated action plan


1 NHS England/Public Health England (2017) The Size of the Prize in Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Prevention

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