Derby City Council’s Livewell service is urging local residents in Derby to get their blood pressure checked for free as part of Know Your Numbers! Week – the UK’s biggest free blood pressure testing event held at ‘Pressure Stations’ around the country.

Advisors from Livewell – the Council’s free healthy lifestyle service, will be hosting the Pressure Stations at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons from Monday 18th – Sunday 24th September. They will provide information and advice on simple steps to keep blood pressure under control and will measure your blood pressure accurately.

Livewell’s free blood pressure checks are at:

  • Tesco, St Peter’s Street on Monday 18th September, 9.00am – 1.00pm
  • Tesco, Mickleover on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th September, 9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Asda, Spondon on Thursday 21st September, 9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Morrisons, Derby on Friday 22nd September, 9.00am – 5.00pm

This comes as charity, Blood Pressure UK cautions that ignoring health warnings, particularly about poor diet and excess salt intake, is leading more young people to develop hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) – putting them at risk of having an early stroke.

Unhealthy lifestyles and poor diet are contributing to more people in their 30s, 40s and 50s being diagnosed with hypertension. Around one in three people in the UK are now living with high blood pressure (the single biggest cause of death) – however 6.5 million people still remain diagnosed.

Councillor Martin Repton, Cabinet Member for Integrated Health and Care says:

“The message to Derby residents is to take charge of their health and get their blood pressure checked free of charge at one of our Pressure Stations. Blood pressure is one of the most preventable and treatable conditions but remains one of the leading causes of death. As an individual having your blood pressure checked is the most important step that you can take to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack or heart failure.”

Shefalee Loth, Nutritionist at Blood Pressure UK says:

“Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in younger patients with high blood pressure, often as a result of too much salt and poor diet. If you start making small changes to your lifestyle when you are young, such as eating less salt, more fruit and vegetable, taking more exercise and keeping to a healthy weight, you will stay healthier and prevent strokes and heart disease.”

For further information on Blood Pressure UK and Know Your Numbers! visit the Blood Pressure UK website.

Blood Pressure UK’s ‘Top five tips for a healthy blood pressure’:

  1. Cut down on salt – Reducing your salt intake it the quickest way to lower your blood pressure. Don’t add it when cooking or at the table, avoid using stock cubes, gravy and soy sauce, check food labels and avoid processed foods high in salt – aim to eat less than 6g a day.
  2. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least five different portions every day.
  3. Watch your weight – try to reach the right weight for your height.
  4. Exercise regularly – that doesn’t have to mean the gym, how about a regular lunchtime walk? 30 minutes five times a week is ideal. If you are unsure about taking up exercise, ask your GP.
  5. Drink alcohol in moderation – up to 14 units a week for both men and women – a glass of wine or a pint of beer is 2-3 units.

Blood Pressure – the facts

What numbers are important to you?

You’re probably pretty sure of your height, weight, age, shoe size… but what about blood pressure? Chances are you’re one of the millions of people who don’t know this most vital statistic.

In England over 13 million people have high blood pressure, but more than 5 million of them don’t even know, because often there are no symptoms until it’s too late – that’s why high blood pressure is called “the silent killer”.

It is important to know that your blood pressure is affected by your lifestyle and this means it can be improved with simple changes.

What is blood pressure?

You can think of blood pressure as how hard your heart has to pump to get your blood around your body. Healthy blood vessels can expand and contract to make this process easier; but narrow or inflexible blood vessels mean your heart has to pump harder, and this means higher blood pressure.

You’ve probably heard blood pressure expressed as two numbers, like “120 over 80”, or you might have seen it written down as 120/80 mmHg (millimetres of mercury). The first number is the pressure when the heart beats (called systolic), and the second one is the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats (called diastolic).

Why do I need to know?

High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.

Every year in England around 110,000 people have a stroke – 9 out of 10 of them could be prevented.

If your blood pressure is high, your heart has to pump harder, which means it will be aging faster. Why not take the Heart Age test, to find out how old your heart is? It only takes three minutes.

How high is high?

If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, you have high blood pressure and it needs to come down. You should make an appointment to see your GP or nurse in the next couple of weeks as you will need to take steps to lower your blood pressure and remain healthy. This could include medication, lifestyle changes or a combination of both.

But even if your blood pressure is ‘normal’, it’s still worth taking steps to bring it down. A person with a blood pressure of 135/85 is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115/75 (every rise of 20mmHg systolic pressure doubles your risk).

If you’re not sure what your blood pressure reading means then you could try this NHS tool for understanding your blood pressure. Simply enter the two numbers and it will calculate whether you need to think about making any changes.

What else can I do?

There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack:

How do I find out?

There is evidence that more people are motivated to change their lifestyle when they know their blood pressure, so why not take the easiest first step by finding out your blood pressure?

Your local pharmacy may be able to offer you a free blood pressure check and can provide additional information. To find your local pharmacy try the NHS Pharmacy Location search bar.

If you would prefer to monitor your blood pressure at home then the British Hypertension Society (BHS) has information about validated blood pressure monitors that are available to buy and have been appropriately tested.

Getting your blood pressure checked is quick, easy, painless, and it might just save your life.