St Helens Council and St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are committed to raising awareness of high blood pressure, which can lead to serious health complications such as strokes and heart attacks – as well as increase the risk of kidney disease and dementia.
Public Health England data shows that 63 per cent of people in St Helens with high blood pressure have been diagnosed. However, it is estimated that there are more than 20,000 local people living with high blood pressure and don’t know about it.
In St Helens, there are a number of ongoing initiatives to encourage people to have their blood pressure checked in General Practice, pharmacies and with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
Examples of initiatives include training people to become Blood Pressure Champions, offering blood pressure checks in the community, and promoting campaigns such as Public Health England’s One You – Know Your Heart Age Campaign, which in 2018 saw over 100 local people take the Heart Age Test and receive a blood pressure check. The Heart Age Test asks physical and lifestyle information, and determines whether someone’s heart is at a higher age than their actual age. Having a heart age older than your chronological age means that you are at a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
In St Helens, there are a number of ways that people can get their blood pressure checked.
A Wellpoint Kiosk is available in St Helens town centre which can offer blood pressure and heart age checks. The Wellpoint Kiosk is situated in the Smokefree St Helens Hub in the Hardshaw Centre and is available to use during the hub’s opening hours which are Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm (closed on Tuesdays from 1pm), and Saturday 10am-2pm.
If you are aged between 40 and 74 years, you may be eligible for a FREE NHS Health Check with your GP or the Healthy Living Team. The check includes lifestyle questions and measures such as height, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Since April 2018, over 500 people have been found to have high blood pressure during their health check.
All these initiatives result in people being advised and supported to take steps to improve their blood pressure, such as increasing activity levels and making small changes to their diet, which is supporting St Helens residents to reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke.
The following top tips from the British Heart Foundation can help to reduce blood pressure:
1. Regular physical activity
2. Keep to a healthy weight
3. Eat a healthy balanced diet
4. Cut down on salt
5. Don’t drink too much
6. Take your medicines as prescribed
For more information on blood pressure and the heart age test, visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/bloodpressure
For more information about the FREE NHS Health Check, contact your GP or the Healthy Living Team on 0300 300 0103