The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has awarded Leeds City Council and the city’s three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) funding for people to have potentially life-saving blood pressure checks, after they were successful in their bid for a BHF grant to support a community based project.

There are over 100,000 people in Leeds with high blood pressure and many more may be undiagnosed. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a silent and potentially deadly condition that significantly increases a person’s chance of a heart attack or stroke. The newly funded programme will increase opportunities for blood pressure monitoring across Leeds outside of GP practices.

A blood pressure test is the only way to find out if your blood pressure is too high or too low, because most people won’t have any obvious symptoms. Having a test is easy and could save your life.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, said:

“I’m proud Leeds has been chosen to get funding for this innovative work. Because it is such targeted activity it will help to meet our commitment to improving the health of the poorest fastest.”

“Every blood pressure problem detected early helps us make sure interventions can be made as soon as possible to improve someone’s long term health. I hope this proves to be successful and something which can be delivered on a wider basis in the future.”

Jenny Hargrave, Director of Innovation and Health and Wellbeing at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Hypertension is one of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular disease. With 16 million people diagnosed in the UK, and many more undiagnosed, there is an urgent need to address this growing epidemic through more research and better detection and treatment.

“It is essential that we have more opportunities to test for high blood pressure in alternative places to GP surgeries, especially in areas where people are more likely to be at risk, like in Leeds.

“We are pleased to support the collaborative bid from the council, CCGs and local pharmacies and are hopeful the project will allow more people to be detected and monitored, undoubtedly saving lives.”

The community blood pressure programme will be delivered in a range of workplaces, including the council, as well as being offered through a number of community pharmacies in the most deprived areas in Leeds. The project is part of a wider BHF initiative to increase the detection and management of undiagnosed high blood pressure across the UK. The charity has awarded in the region of £100,000 to each of seven different sites to implement innovative projects that will test for high blood pressure in a ‘non medical’ setting, in order to diagnose and treat those at risk.

Anyone attending blood pressure testing in their workplace or community pharmacy will be offered brief lifestyle advice regardless of their blood pressure reading and if someone has a high blood pressure reading, they will be loaned a blood pressure monitor to perform and record blood pressure readings in their own home over the following week.

When they come to the follow up appointment they can then be referred to their GP if necessary. The programme will help detect and manage underlying conditions and support people to know and understand their blood pressure reading and what it means to them.

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