NHS pharmacies to offer blood pressure checks to tackle heart problems

New scheme starts in October

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 24 August 2021 10:25
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People over the age of 40 will be offered blood pressure checks at their local pharmacy as part of an NHS drive to tackle heart problems.

Some 11,300 NHS pharmacies across England are set to begin the checks from October in a move aimed at easing pressure on GPs.

Under the scheme, patients who receive a high blood pressure reading will be given clinical and lifestyle advice, or referred for treatment where necessary.

In most cases, the NHS says, it is not clear what causes high blood pressure, although a range of factors including weight and diet can increase the risk.

High blood pressure can be an indicator of heart and circulatory diseases, which are among some of the biggest killers in the UK.

More than 160,000 people die from the illnesses each year - an average of 460 per day - according to the British Heart Foundation.

The NHS estimates that over the next five years, the new changes could prevent 2,500 heart attacks and 3,700 strokes, saving around 2,000 lives each year.

It is hoped the scheme, first piloted in 2019, will help to find earlier thousands living with cardiovascular disease.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said: “It has been an extraordinary year for our pharmacy teams who have continued to ensure millions of people have access to medicines and health advice as well as playing a vital role in delivering the NHS COVID vaccination programme.

“More high street heart checks for blood pressure will mean more rapid detection of killer conditions and quicker treatment for patients who need it.”

Prof Powis added: “Pharmacies are in the heart of communities and so they are ideally placed to provide these convenient checks so if you are worried about your health, please do get tested – it could save your life.

“The NHS Long Term Plan aims to crack down on killer conditions and this action by pharmacy teams will go a long way in helping us achieve our ambitions of saving more lives.”

Helen Williams, national speciality adviser for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “As a pharmacist, I am delighted that this service is being rolled out across England. Community pharmacies are ideally placed to deliver blood pressure checks, being accessible within local communities and regularly used by most adults.

“This service will enable people with high blood pressure to be identified and treated early and will encourage conversations about lifestyle change to help people live healthy lives for longer.”

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