As part of World Hypertension Day taking place on Sunday 17 May, Torbay Council’s Public Health Team is reminding residents to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce their chances of experiencing high blood pressure.

Blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition which affects more than one in three adults worldwide.

For millions of people, high blood pressure will lead to fatal heart attacks, debilitating strokes and chronic heart and kidney disease.

There is often no clear cause of high blood pressure however unhealthy behaviours such as an unbalanced diet, a lack of physical activity, smoking, harmful use of alcohol – together with stressful lifestyles, all increase the chances of developing high blood pressure.

Hypertension is arguably the most important modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease, the leading cause of premature death in the UK, and strokes, the third leading cause. It is also an important cause of heart strain and chronic kidney disease. The chances of having high blood pressure increase with age. There is often no clear cause of high blood pressure but other risk factors include being overweight, lack of exercise and alcohol intake.

Coronary heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the UK. It causes around 36% of deaths (170,000 a year in England) and is responsible for a fifth of all hospital admissions.

It is the largest single cause of long-term ill health and disability, impairing quality of life for many people. The burden of these conditions falls disproportionately on people living in deprived circumstances.

In Torbay, coronary heart disease is responsible for around a third of all deaths annually, around 530 deaths a year. Around 24,000 residents, or around one in 5 of the over 16 population, have their high blood pressure managed with a GP. However, there are estimated to be around 17,000 people suffering with hypertension who do not have their condition managed by a GP.

Many people do not know they have high blood pressure because it does not always cause symptoms. The risk increases with age, from one in ten people in their 20s and 30s to five in ten people in their 50s.

High blood pressure is both preventable and treatable, however early detection is key. The NHS Health Check we offer here in Torbay for those aged 40-74 can have a health MOT which includes a blood pressure check.

The risk of developing high blood pressure can be reduced by:

  • reducing salt intake;
  • eating a balanced diet;
  • avoiding harmful use of alcohol;
  • taking regular physical activity;
  • maintaining a healthy body weight; and
  • avoiding tobacco use.

Everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes or kidney disease. But these diseases can often be prevented. The NHS Health Check can help you by assessing your risk and giving you personalised advice on how to reduce it.

The NHS Health Check is part of a national initiative identifying and managing cardiovascular risk in people aged 40-74. Everyone between the ages of 40 to 74 who has not been diagnosed with the conditions mentioned above will be invited for a check once every five years.

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