Ignoring health warnings is contributing to increased rates of high blood pressure and putting more people at risk of heart attacks or strokes, charity Blood Pressure UK says as pharmacies gear up to take measurements and provide advice this Know Your Numbers! Week (18-24 September).

The week-long campaign encourages people to have their blood pressure checked, regardless of their age, so they can take the steps needed to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

It forms the UK’s biggest free blood pressure testing event, the charity said, and is being held at Pressure Stations around the country, including many community pharmacies.

Volunteers hosting the Pressure Stations provide accurate blood pressure measurements, as well as giving out information and advice on simple steps to keep blood pressure under control and measure blood pressure accurately. Last year, a record 443 pharmacists signed up to host Pressure Stations.

One in three people in the UK have high blood pressure (the single biggest cause of death), of which 6.5 million have not been diagnosed, Blood Pressure UK said. The charity said that increasing numbers of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are being diagnosed with hypertension, mainly due to unhealthy lifestyles and diet. P3 recently reported on a Public Health England analysis showing that one in 10 men aged 50 have a heart age 10 years older than their actual age.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Blood Pressure UK, said: “High blood pressure kills thousands of people every year in the UK, and this is almost entirely preventable. By lowering the population’s blood pressure even a small amount, we could save the NHS over £1 billion every year. 

“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.”

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