Around 40,000 people across Medway are diagnosed with high blood pressure, and the NHS believes many more may not know they suffer.

NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) predicts there may be as many as 65,000 people in total with high blood pressure across the Medway towns and is urging people to get tested and ‘know their numbers’.

This week (16-22 September) is Blood Pressure UK’s Know your Numbers week and the CCG is supporting it by encouraging people to visit a local pharmacy and have their blood pressure checked.

A free test at a local pharmacy can be reassuring. But if your blood pressure falls outside of normal blood pressure boundaries, it’s not necessarily anything to worry about. A simple change of diet and healthy living can get blood pressure back to normal. Others use medication to regulate their blood pressure.

Blood pressure measures how strongly blood is pressing against the walls of your arteries as it is being pumped around your body. If blood pressure becomes too high (also known as hypertension), it can narrow the arteries and blood vessels. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health consequences, such as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease or heart failure.

To help maintain a healthy blood pressure or reduce blood pressure, people should:
• Reduce salt and caffeine intake
• Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
• Drink alcohol in moderation
• Quit smoking
• Do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walk or dancing, at least five times per week
• Lose weight if they need to.

Dr Nathan Nathan, Clinical Chair of NHS Medway CCG, said: “High blood pressure rarely has symptoms so it’s important to get checked regularly.

“If blood pressure is high it can be treated and there are lots of things people can do to lower the risk. The NHS Health Checks, which people across Medway are being invited to attend, include a blood pressure check but many pharmacies can also provide a check which is quick and painless.”

As part of Know your Numbers week, more than 1,500 pressure stations will be measuring people’s blood pressure for free across the UK. For further information and to find pharmacies across Medway which are taking part, visit: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org

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