This week residents of Bristol are invited to Know Your Numbers! Know Your Risks! by having their blood pressure checked for free. High blood pressure is a ‘silent killer’, but regular check-ups can help you monitor it and reduce the associated health risks.
Public Health Bristol is supporting Blood Pressure UK with their yearly national campaign and has arranged 13 local ‘pressure stations’ around the city, which residents can visit for a free check-up.
A report by Public Health England estimates that 108,300 people in Bristol are living with high blood pressure (hypertension), which equates to one in four of the city’s population - half of which are unaware they may have high blood pressure.
Councillor Fi Hance, Cabinet Member for City Health and Wellbeing, said: “There can be big health risks associated with high blood pressure so it is important that we all take proper care of ourselves and have our blood pressure checked on a regular basis. It is so quick to do and usually free in most pharmacies so I would urge people to get theirs checked during Know Your Numbers week, and encourage family, friends and colleagues to do the same. It could be a real life saver.”
High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for premature death, disability, kidney disease and dementia. It can cause cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes coronary heart disease and stroke. Within Bristol, cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of premature death with 61% of all cases considered preventable.
As hypertension is symptomless it’s important that every adult in the UK 'know their numbers' and have their blood pressure checked at least once every 5 years. Those at greater risk of high blood pressure include individuals aged 65 years or over and with Afro-Caribbean or South Asian heritage. If these risk factors apply to you it is recommended that your blood pressure is checked every year.
Hypertension is often preventable and individuals with blood pressure currently in the ‘normal’ range could reduce their future risk of cardiovascular disease by further lowering their blood pressure.
Five ways in which you can do that include:
- Cut down on salt. Don’t cook with salt or add any to your food at the table and cut down on processed, pre-made foods, which contain a lot of salt. Use food labels to help you make a decision on the best options.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet. Use the Eatwell guide to help you with the proportions you should include from each food group. In particular, aim to eat 5 different fruits and vegetables daily.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. If you drink alcohol, stick within the recommended limit of no more than 14 units a week for men and women spread evenly across 7 days.
- Regular physical activity. Adults aged 19-64 need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and strength exercises. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity on 5 days of the week such as cycling or fast walking and then strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles.
- Keep to a healthy weight. For some people, losing weight is all they need to do to get their blood pressure down so maintaining a healthy weight is important.
Don’t be a risk taker, know your numbers and visit your nearest pressure station to have your blood pressure checked for free.