High blood pressure - the tests which could protect you from heart attack

Millions of people are unaware that they have high blood pressure which puts them at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes among other conditions.

A simple blood pressure check could highlight those at increased risk of heart disease.

In a bid to drive up diagnosis rates for high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation - abnormal heart rhythm - NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) have come up with ways to boost the number of people getting tested.

Now public health bosses have said workers should be offered blood pressure tests in officers, and even be given the opportunity to have a test at the supermarket check out.

Experts also said drafting in help from fire services, schools, officers and supermarkets could drive down the number of heart attacks.

Around 5.5 million people in England have undiagnosed high blood pressure and nearly half a million have undiagnosed atrial fibrillation.

Both conditions are usually symptomless but can substantially increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and dementia.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director of NHS England said closer working between NHS organisations and local authorities will help to prevent two of the biggest killer, which are responsible for premature deaths.


Sir Bruce said: "Cardiovascular disease kills more people in this country than anything else.

"We know how to treat the resulting heart attacks and stroke, but everyone knows that prevention is better than cure.

“Prevention of these devastating consequences is everybody's business from our schools, to the food and tobacco industries, to local authorities and the NHS."

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, will also speak about the issue at the PHE annual conference in Warwick.

He suggested that shoppers could check their blood pressure while at the supermarket till and get their result printed on their receipt.

Mr Selbie will tell the conference: "High blood pressure is the invisible killer. We want people to be as familiar with their blood pressure numbers as they are with their credit card Pin or their height.

"Too many people are still living in poor health and dying from a largely preventable disease. The good news is that we know how most heart attacks and strokes can be avoided.

"Scaling up cardiovascular disease prevention locally is a major part of reducing the overall burden on individuals, families and the NHS, and will help to ensure a person's health is not defined by where they live."

PHE and NHS England have written to all 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships to highlight how many stokes and heart attacks could be averted in their region if the "detection and treatment" of high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation is optimised."

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