By Ann-Marie McShane, Public Health Nurse
Do you know what your blood pressure is? Most people don’t.
Usually when we feel ill or have symptoms we go to the doctor. The problem is that high blood pressure doesn’t usually have any symptoms, so we don’t get tested and we have no idea what our blood pressure is.
Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, so knowing your blood pressure could be life saving.
We urgently need to find the thousands of people in Telford with undetected high blood pressure so we can reduce the number of strokes and heart attacks in Telford and Wrekin.
Blood pressure testing goes on tour
Two blood pressure advisors, Marion Chilton and Jaz Shandhu, will be touring Telford and Wrekin this year taking people’s blood pressure as part of a ground-breaking community based project.
The idea is to test people in convenient community locations rather than in GP surgeries.
So far we’ve tested 500 people. The majority have had normal results but some have needed monitoring to check for high blood pressure at home.
When people get tested at their doctors there often isn’t time to explain the results and talk about how you can reduce your risk through making some simple changes in your lifestyle. The people we have tested so far in the BHF programme have said how much they have appreciated the advice Marian and Jaz have given and the time they have taken to explain not only what the results mean, but also what people can do to improve their blood pressure.
We want to carry out 5,000 new blood pressure tests in each year for two years. Which quite a lot. So if you see Marian or Jaz wearing their red British Heart Foundation (BHF) t-shirts out in the community then please do go and get your blood pressure cheeked. They are very friendly!
Why this is ground-breaking
Health testing like this almost always happens in a building like a GPs or a hospital, but the idea behind this is that the test comes to you, instead of you to it.
Marian and Jaz are trained and experienced to test blood pressure and give advice about lifestyle changes. If people need to borrow a monitor they will be supported to do home testing then come back to the advisor to look at what the results mean. This means that only people who need to see a GP get referred, and they will already have carried out home testing which shows that they have high blood pressure, not just a one off high reading. Testing in the community therefore saves time for nurses and GPs and puts people in control of their own health.
The advisors are in place thanks to funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which was awarded to Telford & Wrekin Council.