Hundreds are living with a ‘silent killer’

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Hundreds of Wigan adults are living with a “silent killer”, a charity has warned as it called for “urgent improvement” in the number of people diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The British Heart Foundation said it is “simply unacceptable” that there are 5.5 million people in England unwittingly living with the condition.

The comments come as Public Health England (PHE) encouraged people to “know their numbers” and find out what their BP is. Having high blood pressure can increase a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia. More than a quarter of UK adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension, but the condition rarely has noticeable symptoms.

PHE is encouraging over-40s to get their blood pressure tested as part of their NHS Health Check. Just 46 per cent of people invited to have the check - free for those aged 40 to 74 - have taken up the offer since its 2013 launch. But if the condition is identified, then those affected can get advice on how to reduce their blood pressure.

The health body said diseases caused by hypertension cost the NHS more than £2.1bn each year. Simply increasing diagnoses by 15 per cent would generate £120m in savings each year, PHE said.

Director of health and wellbeing Prof Kevin Fenton said: “It is a serious problem when a disease that is largely preventable, like high blood pressure, is one of the leading causes of premature death and ill health in the country.

“We all memorise important numbers in our lives, whether it’s our PIN and telephone numbers or the latest football scores. Knowing your blood pressure number is an easy step to take that has the potential to save your life.”