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May Measurement Month raising awareness of high blood pressure risks

Wednesday 17th May 2017
A month-long campaign is raising awareness of the potentially fatal health risks associated with high blood pressure. Image: AndreyPopov via iStock
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We are now midway through May Measurement Month, an initiative designed to raise awareness of the potential dangers of high blood pressure and the importance of people getting theirs tested in order to prevent problems from developing.

May Measurement Month is being led by the International Society of Hypertension and the World Hypertension League, and is being supported by the British Heart Foundation, which also wants to increase awareness of the importance of monitoring blood pressure.

High blood pressure has long been known to raise a person's risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, with statistics suggesting that it accounts for around 9.4 million deaths across the globe each year.

Almost one-third (30 per cent) of adults in the UK are believed to be living with high blood pressure, which is the biggest risk factor for premature death around the world.

However, the organisations behind the month-long campaign do not believe that enough people are keeping track of their blood pressure, despite screening being a simple procedure. This means a significant number of people could unwittingly be raising their risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Neil Poulter, professor of preventive cardiovascular medicine at Imperial College London, explained: "People may die suddenly as a result of having high blood pressure, having suffered a heart attack or stroke.

"Others are diagnosed with debilitating conditions caused by raised blood pressure such as heart failure of kidney disease and raised blood pressure is also linked with dementia later in life. However, with no symptoms, most people don't even know they have it and it can strike without any warning."

Recent research carried out by the British Heart Foundation showed that just a small drop in blood pressure levels can reduce heart disease risk by as much as 40 per cent. This therefore indicates that increased awareness of the dangers of hypertension and how the condition can be brought under control are vital for improving outcomes for patients.

Written by Mathew Horton

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