Thirty million UK adults could be missing vital health warning by ignoring blood pressure

8th July 2020 by Charlotte Walker

Thirty million adults in the UK could be at risk of serious health issues because they don’t check their blood pressure, according to new research

As many as six in ten adults don’t know their own reading, whilst a quarter don’t even know what blood pressure is, according to research commissioned by not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health.

Even if they showed symptoms of high or low blood pressure, such as headaches, black-outs and dizziness, a quarter of respondents (26%) said they wouldn’t visit a GP, with a fifth (20%) of these saying they would be put off by lengthy waiting times. A further 20% said they felt it wouldn’t be important enough to seek medical support about.

The data also showed that 5% of UK adults have never had their blood pressure checked and as many as one in five (18%) can’t remember when it was last taken. One in ten (11%) said they were unsure where their blood pressure could be checked, with an additional 10% saying they wouldn’t have it taken due to fear of the results.

To tackle the issue, Benenden Health has produced a new online tool to help people understand what blood pressure is and offer tailored advice to users in order to achieve and maintain a healthy reading. With around a third of adults in the UK having high blood pressure, many will not realise it, meaning that more than five million are at increased risk of potentially deadly health conditions without their knowledge.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it can increase the risk of serious problems including heart attacks and strokes.

Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate flow of blood to the body's organs can also increase the risk of medical complications including heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.

Despite resisting checks and medical advice, only half of all respondents could correctly identify a healthy blood pressure and nearly two thirds (60%) did not know what they can do to raise or lower their blood pressure, with three quarters (77%) of respondents thinking there should be more information available on how to manage a healthy blood pressure.

Cheryl Lythgoe, Matron at Benenden Health, said: “As a result of our findings, we’ve developed an online tool to help people understand what blood pressure is, what the risk factors are and what they can do to raise or lower their reading. Checking – and understanding - your blood pressure can be a really simple, yet hugely important activity in monitoring and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to get checked out as it is simple to do and even if your reading is outside of the normal threshold, blood pressure can be managed to minimise the threat of associated health risks. Despite the current climate, we shouldn’t ignore our wider health and would encourage people to find out their reading either by visiting their GP or pharmacy or by purchasing a machine themselves at a very reasonable price.

“The real danger with blood pressure comes when we ignore it or don’t see it as important. As symptoms aren’t always easy to spot, without an accurate reading you could be in danger of missing out on a vital indication that you are at risk of a serious medical condition. We therefore highly recommend regular monitoring and if you do have any concerns, that you visit your GP and are not put off by the current climate in doing so.”

The not-for-profit mutual organisation Benenden Health has been caring for its community of over 800,000 members every day since 1905 and provides access to affordable private healthcare for just £11.50 per person, per month.

For more information about the symptoms and issues surrounding blood pressure, and to understand what your reading means, go to: https://www.benenden.co.uk/bloodpressure.

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