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Revealed: East London’s high blood pressure battle and what you can do to fight it

PUBLISHED: 07:46 04 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:46 04 June 2018

Dr Gurvinder Rull monitoring blood pressure at Bart's Hospital. Picture source: Omron

Dr Gurvinder Rull monitoring blood pressure at Bart's Hospital. Picture source: Omron

Omron Healthcare

More than 275,000 people are battling high blood pressure across east London, and last month saw health agencies across the capital unite to take part in May Measurement Month to try to tackle the problem.

Half the people with high blood pressure in Tower Hamlets haven't been diagnosed, say health campaigners. Picture source: OmronHalf the people with high blood pressure in Tower Hamlets haven't been diagnosed, say health campaigners. Picture source: Omron

Blood pressure is the physical pressure of blood in the blood vessels. It allows blood to travel around the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the organs of the body

High pressure, known medically as hypertension, is important because it leads to an increased risk of serious cardiovascular disease, with complications such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and blindness.

According to the World Health Organisation, it is the leading cause for preventable death worldwide.

The most recent statistics released by Public Health England on the prevalence of high blood pressure use data available from each borough’s Clinical Commissioning Groups to draw up a projection of the number of high blood pressure sufferers in each area, as well as using percentages and population figures to estimate how many residents suffer in silence and have not been diagnosed.

The results make for shocking reading.

In east London, Newham has the toughest challenge ahead, with an astounding 67,884 people suffering hypertension – of which it is believed 29,200 remain undiagnosed.

Newham is followed closely by Havering and Redbridge, with 61,946 and 61,269 high blood pressure patients respectively.

Again, statistically, the local health services expect 25,750 undiagnosed sufferers in Havering and a further 25,450 in Redbridge.

Infographic on high blood pressure from Public Health EnglandInfographic on high blood pressure from Public Health England

Tower Hamlets recorded 44,835 people living with high blood pressure, 22,000 of which are undiagnosed.

And while Barking and Dagenham performed better than its east London neighbours, statistics show there are still 41,791 people living with high blood pressure and an estimated 17,150 number undiagnosed

Last year marked the first global May Measurement Month, an international campaign aimed at encouraging as many people as possible to get their blood pressure checked.

Events were held across London and across the world – Barts NHS Trust, which serves Newham and Tower Hamlets, held a one-off blood pressure checker event at Barts Hospital, in the City of London, on Tuesday, May 29, to raise awareness.

Infographic on high blood pressure from Public Health EnglandInfographic on high blood pressure from Public Health England

Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Having high blood pressure can be deadly as, if left untreated, it significantly increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

“And it’s much more common than you might think, with nearly one in three adults in the UK living with the condition. We estimate there are up to 7 million people in the UK with untreated or undiagnosed high blood pressure.

“The biggest problem with high blood pressure is that it’s silent there are rarely any signs or symptoms. That’s why its so important that people know their numbers, and seek advice and treatment if needed.”

There are some steps people can take themselves to reduce the risks of high blood pressure.

Exercising more regularly, reducing alcohol, caffeine and salt in our diets and losing weight are some of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure.

But it is still important to get checked, and across east London it seems there has been an issue with residents – particularly middle aged men, biting the bullet and getting themselves tested at their GP’s surgery. Not every diagnosis will result in medication being prescribed – often it is as simple as making a few lifestyle changes.

A spokeswoman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge CCGs said: “We know that the population is living longer and with more long term conditions and general ill health than 10 years ago.

“Our GPs are also better at picking up and treating issues such as high blood pressure, which can be very serious.

“Many patients over 45 – particularly men – rarely see their GP, and we would encourage those who haven’t done so recently, to arrange to have their blood pressure checked by their doctor or practice nurse.”

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