The NHS look to the future by offering hundreds of thousands of free blood pressure monitors as part of their Long Term Plan, designed to prevent 2,200 heart attacks and 3,300 strokes over the next five years.
Similar to the blood pressure monitors used in GP practices, more than 65,000 of the devices have already been delivered to patients and the plan is to make them available to 220,000 people who have been diagnosed with uncontrolled high blood pressure, known as hypertension and could benefit from regular checks.
Recipients will be asked to take a reading with the cuff device once a month and send the results to their GP via telephone, email or a dedicated website. NHS England medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said continual monitoring was essential “so they can report any significant changes that could indicate a potentially deadly stroke or heart attack”.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said the scheme is “just one way” that the government is “backing the health service to harness the potential of new technology, to support hardworking staff and save thousands of lives”.
What is hypertension?
It’s estimated to affect a third of adults in the UK. It is often known as the ‘silent killer’ as it rarely has noticeable symptoms yet if left untreated, can increase your risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Blood pressure is assessed by recording two numbers. Systolic pressure is the higher number and is the force at which the heart pumps blood around the body. Diastolic pressure, which is the lower number, is the resistance to blood flow.
Generally, blood pressure is considered high if it is 140/90mmHg or higher – your ideal blood pressure should be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. Any higher than the latter and you’ll be advised to take steps to control your blood pressure or risk developing hypertension.
As well as a family history of high blood pressure, there are certain lifestyle factors that can increase your risk, including:
- Being overweight
- Eating too much salt
- Poor diet
- Excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeinated drinks
Making healthy lifestyle changes can help lower high blood pressure or prevent you from developing hypertension. Blood pressure medications may also be prescribed.
Regular blood pressure tests are the only way to assess whether you have hypertension or are at risk of developing it. Call 0333 444 1844 to arrange a consultation with Dr Konrad Grosser if you’re concerned about high blood pressure.