Unnecessary heart attacks and strokes could be avoided if people in Dorset got regular blood pressure checks and sought treatment if they need it.

National data from UCL Partners shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic there was a reduction in people getting checked and this remains low.

It is estimated over 200,000 people in Dorset are affected by high blood pressure or Hypertension, however only around 50% of those are getting tested regularly. If this number increased to 80% the data shows that 81 heart attacks and over 100 strokes could be avoided.

As part of the annual Know Your Numbers campaign which takes place every September, local GP and lead for Dorset on Hypertension Dr Blair Millar, is encouraging everyone to get checked.

He said “With so many people affected by high blood pressure and not knowing, it is important to test regularly and get help if you need it.

Home monitoring is convenient and can save time, both for individuals and clinicians, it also enables you to take regular measurements in a familiar environment which can be more accurate.

“Monitors are inexpensive and are readily available online, on the high street or through pharmacies. Alternatively, if you are invited for a free NHS health check make sure you attend.

“Keep a record of your blood pressure. High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 or higher so if your numbers are high, you should inform your GP right away.”

High blood pressure can lead to a number of health problems including

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Diabetes

And when added to other existing conditions such as high cholesterol or being overweight can cause more serious problems in the future. However, once you Know Your Numbers you can get help and minimise your risk.

Community pharmacies across Dorset are now offering blood pressure checks to people who are 40 years and over. This new service has the potential to increase the detection of high blood pressure in the local population and positively impact on health inequalities, especially those who do not routinely see their GP or use other NHS services.

Almost 70% of the community pharmacies across Dorset are providing this service and people will be able to freely access the checks. We would encourage people to have a blood pressure check, the pharmacy teams are there to provide support and advice.

To find your nearest site visit bit.ly/KYNDorset.

Many GP practices across Dorset are offering a home measuring service, BP@home. Find out if your practice is involved at www.ourdorset.org.uk/digital/bphome/.

Louise Bell, Advanced Nurse Practitioner at the Bridges Medical Practice in Weymouth, Digital Nursing Fellow and BP@Home Lead “There has been a significant reduction in high blood pressure from hypertensive patients in Dorset since using the app and we have had a 45% reduction in patient appointments relating to blood pressure, saving time for both them and their GP.

“We know that this can make a real difference to people’s lives and it has been positively received by patients. Patients using the app have told us that using the app has made them take more notice and have a better understanding of their blood pressure and that they are seeing improvements.”

Find out more about the risk of high blood pressure via bloodpressureuk.org.

Know Your Numbers takes place every September, asking people across the country to find out their blood pressure reading and if it is outside of the normal range, to seek help.

Further information

The BP@Home app was introduced in 2021 to GP practices in Poole, Mid Dorset, Weymouth and Portland, Blandford and The Vale. There are currently 415 active patients with hypertension remotely taking blood pressure readings at home every month. Readings are reviewed by clinical teams and followed up with advice and/or changes to medication.

Patients with hypertension are encouraged to Register for the BP@Home service – Our Dorset or speak to their health professional.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of premature death in England, and high blood pressure is the biggest risk factor in CVD.