Almost 50,000 people in Liverpool are at risk of a stroke, heart attack or kidney disease because they do not know they have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the most common long term health condition – and second only to smoking as the highest risk factor in causing death in all ages for the North West of England.
As part of national ‘Know Your Numbers’ week from 10-16 September, organised by Blood Pressure UK, Public Health Liverpool is teaming up with Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, the Stroke Association and PSS to raise awareness and encourage people to check their blood pressure.
The initiative is being backed by Ian Collins, 58, who had a stroke in his sleep 11 years ago. He woke up and couldn’t walk or use the right side of his body.
He was forced to leave his job as a joiner, where he was working long hours to support his family.
After being supported by the Stroke Association during his recovery, Ian now volunteers for the charity.
He is a stroke ambassador and chairs the charity’s Merseyside Life After Stroke Group, supporting many stroke survivors across Merseyside with social activities.
Ian said: “A stroke can be devastating but in many cases can also be preventable, simply by having your blood pressure checked.
“I would encourage everyone to monitor their blood pressure and have regular checks.
I was too late getting mine checked out and sadly, went on to have a stroke because of it. “
As well as taking medication to keep my blood pressure down, I have also cut back on salt and try to drink in moderation.”
It is estimated that there are almost 50,000 people in Liverpool at an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease due to undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Over the next few weeks, staff from Public Health Liverpool will be visiting supermarkets and community events, while 18 pharmacies will be offering free blood pressure checks.
Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, Sandra Davies, said: “High blood pressure is a silent killer and many people just do not know that they are at risk.
It can be a ticking time bomb and lead to serious conditions such as a stroke or heart disease, but the good news is that it can easily be treated by improving diet, losing weight and being more active.
“That’s why we’re encouraging people to know their blood pressure numbers, in the same way they know their height and weight, as well as encouraging their family and friends to do the same.”
TOP FIVE TIPS FOR A HEALTHY BLOOD PRESSURE
• Cut down on salt – an adult should eat less than 6g (just over one teaspoon) of salt a day. Check food labels and try to avoid processed foods that are high in salt.
• Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least five different portions every day. Frozen, canned, dried as well as fresh, all count.
• Watch your weight – try to reach the right weight for your height.
• Be active – that doesn’t have to mean the gym, it could be as simple as a walk most days for at least 10 minutes and aiming to build up to being active for 30 minutes each day.
• Drink alcohol in moderation – up to 14 units a week for both men and women (a glass of wine or a pint of beer is 2-3 units) spread across three or more days.