Some pharmacies, barber shops, train stations and even football clubs will be offering blood pressure checks, as part of a major BHF initiative to improve diagnosis of high blood pressure.
We will be investing £1.5million pounds in projects across the country to test ‘community-based’ approaches to blood pressure testing. It is hoped that if successful, such approaches will help to reach thousands of people who are less likely to go to their GP surgery for a blood pressure check.
The innovative initiative was developed after figures revealed that an estimated 7 million people across the UK are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure, putting them at risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, we found that there is significant variation in detection rates and treatment across England.
A 'silent killer'
High blood pressure – which is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ – affects nearly 30% of adults across the UK. Yet despite this, 40% of people in the UK with high blood pressure are undiagnosed and untreated, increasing their risk of having a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke. People with high blood pressure are up to three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
It is estimated that the consequences of high blood pressure costs the NHS in England £2bn every year, while social care and economic costs are likely to be much higher. The upcoming publication of the NHS’ long-term plan provides an opportunity for the NHS to prioritise better identification and management of high blood pressure, as well as other risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases.
Current barriers to diagnosis of high blood pressure include limited time available for GPs to do tests, lack of public awareness, and variation in how much blood pressure tests are prioritised by healthcare professionals.
Projects to improve diagnosis
To tackle the issue, the BHF has now awarded two rounds of funding for innovative projects which will explore the best ways of diagnosing high blood pressure, beyond GP surgeries. The BHF is supporting 15 projects across the country, over a two year period. Each project will need to reach and test the blood pressure of at least 5,000 people per year, who are not already diagnosed.
We will be evaluating the different models used in the projects, to find out the most effective ways to test for high blood pressure. The evidence will be shared with the NHS and local bodies to encourage the spread and adoption of successful approaches to community-based blood pressure testing across the UK.
Jacob West, our Director of Healthcare Innovation, said:
“We urgently need to find the millions of people across the UK living with undiagnosed high blood pressure. This means learning from countries like Canada, where knowing your blood pressure has become as common as knowing your weight or pin code. This has led to vast improvements in diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure in Canada, where widespread access to community-based testing models is now the rule rather than the exception. Now it’s our turn to take high blood pressure seriously, and find the missing 7 million.”
Find out more about high blood pressure