Four million Brits are living with the ‘silent killer’ of high blood pressure, the NHS warns

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • High blood pressure has been dubbed a ‘silent killer’ as it displays no symptoms

More than four million people in England could be living with undiagnosed high blood pressure, according to the NHS.

The ‘silent killer’ often has no symptoms but if left untreated can lead to fatal heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and vascular dementia.

It affects an estimated 32 per cent of adults, but approximately three in ten of these remain undiagnosed. Now the NHS has launched a campaign to find the ‘missing millions’, announcing an additional 2.5million blood pressure checks in community pharmacies over this year and next.

Under the Pharmacy First programme, those aged 40 and over are being urged to take up the offer of a free test, which is quick and requires no advance booking.

The ‘silent killer’ often has no symptoms but if left untreated can lead to fatal conditions (stock image) 

Around a sixth of 2,000 people surveyed saying they have been put off having a blood pressure check because they don't feel unhealthy or stressed (stock image)

Around a sixth of 2,000 people surveyed saying they have been put off having a blood pressure check because they don’t feel unhealthy or stressed (stock image)

Factors that can increase the risk of high blood pressure include being over the age of 65, being overweight, not doing enough exercise, drinking too much alcohol or coffee, eating too much salt, stress and smoking.

Data reveals widespread misconceptions about the condition, with around a sixth of 2,000 people surveyed saying they have been put off having a blood pressure check because they don’t feel unhealthy or stressed. And a fifth were unaware that untreated high blood pressure can cause strokes and heart attacks.

Health Minister Andrea Leadsom said: ‘Millions of adults in England unknowingly have high blood pressure, without experiencing any symptoms. 

‘Knowing if you have a healthy blood pressure is so important and this new drive will help to prevent the potentially fatal consequences of untreated high blood pressure.

‘I urge people to go to their local pharmacy today to get their blood pressure checked. It could be a life-saving trip.’

The survey found that the majority of those at risk prioritise annual tasks such as getting their car MOT’d, their boiler serviced or renewing insurances above checking their blood pressure.

Data reveals widespread misconceptions about the condition (stock image)

Data reveals widespread misconceptions about the condition (stock image) 

Chief Medical Officer for England Sir Professor Chris Whitty said: ‘High blood pressure usually has no symptoms but can lead to serious health consequences such as a fatal heart attack, a stroke, kidney disease and vascular dementia. 

‘The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get a simple, non-invasive blood pressure test.’

High blood pressure can usually be reversed with medication or lifestyle changes. Professor Whitty added: ‘Even if you are diagnosed, the good news is that it’s usually easily treatable. 

‘Getting your blood pressure checked at a pharmacy is free, quick and you don’t even need an appointment, so please go for a check today – it could save your life.’

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