Know Your Numbers Week (KYN2020) is taking place this week, from 7 to 13 September.
The event has been established to encourage people to find out their own blood pressure figures. In previous years, volunteers have staffed free pressure check stations at pharmacies, supermarkets and sports centres. This year will - for obvious reasons - have to be a little different, and the focus is therefore on encouraging the nation to use a simple and reliable blood pressure monitor to measure blood pressure at home.
High blood pressure (hypertension) contributes to over 60% of strokes. In addition, it is a major risk factor for:
Often there are no precursor signs or symptoms warning of these serious events and so unless an individual visits the doctor to have their blood pressure measured, they may not realise that they have hypertension. It is estimated that up to seven million people may have an elevated blood pressure but be unaware of it.
Blood Pressure UK, a charity dedicated to helping people learn about and manage hypertension, has a hub of resources to help people buy and use monitors for home use. In fact, measuring at home may provide a more accurate measurement of blood pressure, particularly for people who are affected by ‘white coat syndrome’ where the stress of having blood pressure measured in a clinical setting means that their pressure is falsely elevated.
The charity also provides help and advice on the management of hypertension. The risk factors include:
The good news is that some relatively simple alterations to diet and lifestyle can assist. In more serious cases, a GP may need to prescribe medication, but as with many problems, the sooner it is recognised, the more effective treatment can be. So by ‘knowing your numbers’, you may be able to take action before any of the serious events listed above occur.
Emma McCheyne, a senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches Cooper, said: “We deal with a large number of cardiac and stroke cases, and while patients have every right to expect these problems to be managed effectively when they occur, many of them are preventable in the first place. I would encourage people to take this first step and get their blood pressure checked. This will then allow them to make appropriate lifestyle changes, or visit their GPs who can help them to reduce the risk of these problems.”