Health Matters – Combating high blood pressure

Health Matters – Combating high blood pressure


Public Health England has just launched the latest edition of Health Matters which focuses on combating high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often described as a silent killer. It rarely causes symptoms but is the second biggest single risk factor for premature death and disability in England and was responsible for around 75,000 deaths in 2015. For every 10 people with high blood pressure, four have been diagnosed and treated to target, two have been diagnosed but not treated adequately and four remain undiagnosed. This undiagnosed population equates to over 5.5 million people in England. Now England’s performance in terms of diagnosing and treating high blood pressure is clearly still sub-optimal. Only 35% percent of adults with high blood pressure are both diagnosed and managed to recommended levels and this compares with over 65%in Canada. An estimated 80% of premature cardiovascular disease events such as heart disease and stroke are considered avoidable through better public health. As a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease we also know that most cases of high blood pressure could be prevented or if not prevented treated to reduce the risk of premature death and ill health. All blood pressure guidelines agree that leading a healthy lifestyle should be the first step in preventing high blood pressure and there are a number of modifiable risk factors that are driving the high levels of high blood pressure which we observe in our population and these include excess dietary salt intake, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and the lack of physical activity. People from the most deprived areas in England are thirty percent more likely than the least deprived to have high blood pressure. These inequalities are even wider still for outcomes of high blood pressure such as stroke and coronary heart disease. Now I believe that we all can play an important role as health and care professionals in raising awareness of these factors and supporting people to make healthier lifestyle choices. Public Health England has a range of tools to help assess local need, to plan services and undertake effective commissioning of health and care services to improve the prevention, detection and management of high blood pressure. For instance the Public Health England and BHF-designed ‘Blood Pressure: How we can do better’ local resources, are available for each clinical commissioning group and these reports show how each CCG is doing in detecting and treating high blood pressure the gains that can be made by lowering blood pressure alongside some practical tips from healthcare professionals on how you can improve detection and management of blood pressure in your area. This edition of Public Health England’s Health Matters brings together the rationale for better prevention, detection and management of high blood pressure with action points for both healthcare professionals and local authorities. The reality is we know we can do so much better in combating high blood pressure in England. There is room for significant improvement as evidenced by what is being achieved locally in different areas as well as internationally. The potential rewards for us in population health are huge not forgetting the impact on individuals and communities. So please take a look at the Health Matters online resource which includes case studies, blogs, video discussions, downloadable infographics and slides that you can use in presentations and in discussions with colleagues. Thank you for watching.