Bid to raise awareness of ‘silent killer’

MORE than half of all strokes and heart attacks in Somerset are caused by high blood pressure.

Known as the silent killer, high blood pressure is quick and simple to diagnose and to treat – so getting tested could be a life-saver.

NHS Somerset, together with Somerset Council, have launched their biggest ever campaign, Take the Pressure Off, with the aim of testing thousands of residents to increase awareness and early detection of high blood pressure.

The campaign kicked off with a workplace testing event at Suez, the contractor for Somerset Waste Partnership, on February 8. Over the coming months, testing events will be held across the county at sporting venues and in workplaces.

Many people will have no symptoms of high blood pressure, but it can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems if left unchecked. The Take the Pressure Off campaign is designed to encourage residents, particularly those aged over 40, to regularly check their blood pressure and take necessary steps towards managing their health.

Dr Solomon Lebese, Cardiovascular Clinical Champion at NHS Somerset, said: “High blood pressure doesn’t usually have obvious symptoms, making it a silent threat to many. Around one third of people with high blood pressure will be unaware that they have it.

“Through workplace testing, community events, blood pressure checks in pharmacies, and the availability of free blood pressure monitors for loan at local libraries, we aim to make testing accessible to all and encourage a pro-active approach to health within our communities.”

Professor Trudi Grant, Executive Director of Public and Population Health, joint appointment between Somerset Council and NHS Somerset, said: “Addressing the silent issue of high blood pressure within our community is a critical aspect of improving population health. Often someone with high blood pressure will only find out when faced with a serious health event, such as a heart attack or stroke. This highlights the importance of prevention and the simple, yet lifesaving, step of regular blood pressure checks.

“It’s a stark reality that 50 per cent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable through early diagnosis of high blood pressure. Taking only around one minute to do, this simple test can significantly alter the course of one’s health and may even save your life.”

In addition to workplace testing, the campaign will be partnering with local sports clubs to help raise awareness of the risks of high blood pressure, particularly to males and those who identify as male, across Somerset.

Residents are also encouraged to borrow a free blood pressure monitor from their library to test their own blood pressure in the comfort of their home, or visit their local pharmacy for a quick and easy check.