Unnoticed high blood pressure puts millions at heart attack and stroke risk
More than 5.5 million people in England1 may currently be suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension) without any symptoms and, if left untreated, this can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. In Greater Manchester alone, 69,000 people have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, according to the British Heart Foundation, with many more likely to be undiagnosed2.
Community blood pressure programme
To tackle these statistics, Nuffield Health has partnered with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust to launch a new community-led blood pressure programme.
Trusted members of the local area, known as ‘Community Champions’, have volunteered to be trained by Nuffield Health physiologists to provide them with the knowledge and skills to undertake blood pressure checks. Local residents interested in having their blood pressures taken, for free, can visit convenient locations across Openshaw, Beswick and Clayton, including Malawi Heritage UK, Rainbow Haven and St Clement’s Church. These areas have been selected to support areas with the poorest health outcomes.
Community Champions use a digital platform to indicate if the blood pressure reading is in the green, amber or red range.
- If the reading is green, free educational resources provided by Nuffield Health, which include advice on leading a healthy lifestyle as well as recognising the signs and symptoms of hypertension, are shared with the participant to help them maintain a healthy range.
- Those who fall into the amber range are offered a referral to a Care Navigator who will support them with signposting to lifestyle interventions, connecting the individual with the best available intervention to help support their health needs to help reduce their blood pressure reading.
- Those in the red range, who could be deemed hypertensive, are asked to visit their community pharmacist to have their reading verified and if required will be treated by the pharmacist or referred to their GP.
The initiative has been designed to increase the number of people accessing blood pressure tests, helping to protect the health of the local community, whilst also demonstrating how a localised community-led approach can positively support wider primary care initiatives. With hypertension now the number one priority for the NHS3, Nuffield Health is committed to addressing and supporting the unmet healthcare needs in local communities through initiatives such as this.
To raise further awareness of the campaign, the Community Champions have been sharing their own personal experiences through candid real-life stories, which is what has inspired them to get involved with the project to support their local area.
These have been shared publicly to encourage people to protect the hearts of those they love by looking after their own health.
A mural, inspired by these stories, has also been commissioned by Nuffield Health in partnership with Oskar from Withington Walls. This mural, alongside additional family-friendly activities including fitness classes and games, will be unveiled on Saturday 9th September 2023 at 2 Rushton Grove, Openshaw, Manchester, M11 1NN.
Vicky Fitzgerald, Health Improvement Lead at Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, said: “Reducing hypertension is currently an NHS priority, and our Community Blood Pressure initiative aims to address this by allowing local communities to access free blood pressure checks in community spaces. Working with the NHS and Manchester Local Care Organisation we’ve been able to train members of the local community, now known as our Community Champions, in Openshaw, Beswick and Clayton, to take these blood pressure readings.
“As a Charity, we are on a mission to drive both awareness and understanding of the health issues that are impacting the nation. Through this community-led initiative, we are aiming to not only increase awareness of those who may already be suffering with hypertension, but also deliver the means to try and prevent this number from rising further.
“Upskilling trusted figures in the local community provides a safe and accessible option for local people to prioritise their health and wellbeing, with the Champions having the knowledge to provide all with support in terms of next steps – regardless of the outcomes.”
Angela Beacon, Neighbourhood Lead at Manchester Local Care Organisation4, said: “Improving heart health across our communities is a key public health priority for Manchester. We know that high blood pressure (hypertension) rarely has any symptoms, but if left unchecked and untreated increases the risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
“With residents in our neighbourhoods facing some of the poorest health outcomes, we know that we need to collaborate on innovative methods to improve heart health, through a lens of tackling health inequalities.
“Together with our communities, voluntary organisations and others working in the community we know that we can make good heart health a reality for more of us.
“Local solutions, such as this pilot in collaboration with Nuffield Health, gives an opportunity to develop clearer, trusted heart health pathways using language that communities understand, shifting not only how we think, but also how we act around our health and wellbeing.”
For more information visit: https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/blood-pressure
Last updated Friday 8 September 2023
First published on Monday 4 September 2023