It’s Know your Numbers! Week from 4 – 10 September, when everyone is encouraged to check their blood pressure.
It is estimated that 125,900 people in Surrey Heartlands are living with poorly controlled or undiagnosed hypertension. High blood pressure is called ‘the silent killer’ as it has no symptoms, but can lead to heart attacks, stroke and other illnesses.
Make sure you get your blood pressure checked so that you can get support to bring your blood pressure down to a healthy level through lifestyle changes or through taking medication.
In Surrey Heartlands, we have been encouraging patients to check their blood pressure at home since the Covid-19 pandemic, and many of our GP surgeries have been providing patients at risk of high blood pressure the Blood Pressure @ Home monitoring service (BP@Home).
Patients identified as likely to benefit from the service are asked to take their blood pressure readings twice a day for 4 days to get the most accurate picture. The patient sends in their readings to the surgery by App, text, email or phone depending on their preference, and the average is calculated.
Based on the result the patient will be advised whether they need to see their GP or pharmacist to have medication, or given lifestyle advice such as diet and exercise, reducing their alcohol intake, stopping smoking and reducing stress.
We can all check our blood pressure. To do so, you need a blood pressure monitor. You can purchase one for as little as £30, borrow one from a friend or relative, visit your local pharmacy if they offer blood pressure checks or visit your GP practice if they have a blood pressure kiosk in reception.
NHS advice is that if you take your blood pressure at home, it is normal if it is:
< 135/85mmHg if you are under 80 years old
< 145/85mmHG if you are over 80 years old.
But you should still follow the lifestyle guidance and recheck in about 6 months.
If your blood pressure is above these levels, don’t ignore it. Get a recheck as soon as you can at your local pharmacy or contact your GP practice where an appropriately trained clinician will help you manage high blood pressure readings.
3,444 people in Surrey Heartlands at risk of high blood pressure have been monitoring their blood pressure at home on a regular basis, overseen by the BP@Home team.
Nearly half of those patients (48.78%) now have blood pressure readings in the normal threshold which they’ve achieved through healthy lifestyle changes and medication where necessary.
In addition, GP surgeries in Surrey Heartlands have contacted patients by SMS text message to encourage them to get their blood pressure checked and send in their results.
Nearly 55,000 patients have now done this, and any patients that have readings above the normal threshold are receiving support from their practice to understand how they can reduce their blood pressure and remain healthy.
Jeremy, Surrey Heartlands BP@Home Patient, first realised he may have high blood pressure when he borrowed a friend’s blood pressure monitor. Worried about his high readings he contacted his GP and was given medication to help reduce his blood pressure as well as advice on how to manage it himself.
Jeremy changed his job to reduce his stress, started exercising again, and changed his diet. He has lost some weight and is now much fitter and enjoying life. He said:
It’s been revolutionary for me.
It’s reawakened for me the benefits of physical training and got me to look after my health, and hopefully some of my friends and colleagues to do something similar. That’s all come from this process.
Another Surrey Heartlands patient, Gurmit Bhamra found out through his GP that he had high blood pressure. He also has other long term conditions including diabetes, and these things together can increase the risks. Gurmit had this to say about his experience of the BP@Home service:
Joining the BP@Home service means I can monitor my blood pressure without having to go to see my GP every two or three days. My medication has been changed, and I’ve made some lifestyle changes to manage my blood pressure better.
I do regular exercises at home and changed my diet – eating less in the evening. These small changes mean I feel in control and have helped reduce my blood pressure.
The BP@Home team is really helpful, I feel supported and I know there’s help at the end of the phone if I need it.
Dr Jagjit Rai, Lead Clinician for BP@Home in Surrey Heartlands said:
We know that patients are happy to monitor their condition from home as we’ve been running the BP@Home service for well over two years. When patients monitor their condition themselves they not only develop a better understanding of it, but feel empowered to manage it well through remembering to take their medication, and making lifestyle choices. This leads to better preventative care for our patients and saves time for both our GPs and patients as they no longer need to visit the surgery to have their blood pressure checked and their readings are sent in electronically.
It’s important that we all know our numbers, so make sure you get your blood pressure checked and you know what your readings mean!
Visit the NHS and Blood Pressure UK websites for information on how to take your blood pressure, advice on what the numbers mean and healthy lifestyle choices you can make to manage your blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.