More blood pressure checks in the community

The NHS has announced an expansion to blood pressure checks available in the community, including in places like barbershops, mosques and a dominoes club.

The move is part of a major drive to prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Recent figures have shown that high street pharmacies delivered 149,865 blood pressure checks to the over 40s in May 2023 – more than double the amount delivered the year before (58,345 in May 2022).

It is hoped that more than 1,300 heart attacks and strokes could be prevented this year thanks to the high street checks.

In Lambeth, NHS teams have worked with Black Thrive and MyCommunity Lambeth to offer blood pressure checks at a Brixton dominoes club, helping to spot signs of hypertension early.

In Barnsley, NHS and council services are running a mobile blood pressure service called ‘How’s Thi Ticker’ which travels around local neighbourhoods including to barber shops, supermarkets, and community centres, with more than a third of people referred to pharmacists with high blood pressure, therefore freeing up GPs and catching early signs of heart attack and stroke risk.

David Webb, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, said: “The enormous expansion in the number of blood pressure checks delivered over the last year is thanks to the hard work of community pharmacies which have more than doubled the number of blood pressure checks delivered, and the innovation of local teams, going into the heart of communities with mobile sites that can visit places like barber shops and dominoes clubs.

“With the number of people living with major illnesses including heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions set to grow substantially over the coming years, it has never been more important to put in place preventative measures like easy to access blood pressure checks that can pick up the early signs and risks, with figures showing teams are on track to prevent more than 1,300 heart attacks and strokes this year alone”.

Professor Bola Owolabi, NHS director of healthcare Inequalities, said: “These latest figures demonstrate the exceptional work being done by high street pharmacies to tackle health inequalities, more than doubling the number of blood pressure checks in just a year which will undoubtedly have a significant effect on reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke for so many people. This is particularly important for those living in the most deprived areas and from ethnic minority backgrounds who we know are most at risk.

“This is also why it is so vital that we continue to strengthen the exceptional work being done by local NHS prevention and health inequalities teams who are constantly thinking of new, innovative ways to get right into the heart of our communities – whether it is the local church, mosque, community centre or a dominoes club – delivering blood pressure checks in the most convenient places to make it as easy as possible for people to check their risk”.

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