Free blood pressure monitors will be provided to hundreds of thousands of Britons as part of an NHS initiative to reduce deaths from strokes and heart attacks. 

The £17 cuff machines will be given to 220,000 people who suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure. 

All recipients will be asked for a reading at least once a month and to submit the results to their GP via email, or by telephone. 

Health officials hope that doctors will be able to detect high blood pressure patients more quickly, reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Currently, the only way to test your blood pressure is to visit a GP, pharmacy, or medical centre or to buy a home monitor.

NHS England medical director Dr Nikki Kanani who is also a GP said that it was crucial for hypertension patients to monitor their condition so they can report any significant change that could indicate a potential deadly stroke or heart attack.

Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, said that ‘This is just a way we’re supporting the health service to harness new technology to support hardworking employees and save thousands of people’s lives.

Today, a number of charities welcomed the scheme and stated that it was vital for patients with high blood sugar to have regular blood pressure tests. 

Figures suggest that hypertension affects around a third of adults in the US and UK. 

Blood pressure monitors costing £17 each are to be handed out for free on the NHS (stock)

Blood pressure monitors costing £17 each are to be handed out for free on the NHS (stock)

What is high blood pressure?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be difficult to detect. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious conditions such as strokes or heart attacks.

High blood pressure affects more than one in four adults in Britain, though many people don’t realize it.

You can only find out if you have high blood pressure by having your blood pressure checked.

Two numbers are used to record blood pressure. The systolic force (higher number), is the force at that your heart pumps blood around you body.

The resistance to blood flow in blood vessels is called diastolic pressure (lower). They are both measured in millimetres mercury (mmHg).

As a guideline:

  • High blood pressure is 140/90mmHg (or higher)
  • Ideal blood pressure is between 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg
  • Low blood pressure is 90/60mmHg and lower
  • If your blood pressure reads between 120/80mmHg to 140/90mmHg, it could indicate that you are at risk of developing hypertension.

High blood pressure can cause extra strain on the blood vessels, heart, and other organs like the brain, kidneys, and eyes.

Persistently high blood pressure can increase your chance of developing serious, potentially fatal conditions such as:

  • Heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • heart failure
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Aneurysms of the aorta
  • Kidney disease
  • vascular dementia

Because high blood pressure rarely causes symptoms, doctors consider it a silent killer. Patients are unaware that they have it.

If left untreated, it can lead to strokes or heart attacks.

The NHS bosses hope that the distribution of blood pressure monitors will prevent 3,300 strokes, and 2,200 heart attacks in the next five-years. 

High blood pressure is linked to obesity, salt intake, smoking, and being overweight. 

This condition can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes. 

NHS officials unveiled the £3.8million scheme today as part of its ambition to prevent up to 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases in the next decade. 

Patients can test their blood pressure simply by wrapping the machine around one arm and allowing it tense. It takes approximately one minute to get a reading.

Patients have been given 65,000 machines that are identical to those used by GPs. 

Unveiling the scheme, Dr Kanani said: ‘It’s vital that people with high blood pressure keep track of their levels, so they can report any significant changes that could indicate a potentially deadly stroke or heart attack, and this simple but lifesaving innovation offers people efficient and convenient care.

Patients can easily update their GPs with regular snapshots of their blood pressure by using these monitors and reporting them to local teams. These simple checks will save lives.

Mr Javid stated that technology can transform the NHS’s care. These innovative blood pressure devices will give patients the tools they need to monitor and manage their own health at home.

‘This is just one way we’re backing the health service to harness the potential of new technology, to support hardworking staff and save thousands of lives.’

The scheme was welcomed by Dr Sonyababu-Narayan, the British Heart Foundation’s associate medical director, and cardiologist.

She stated that people with high blood pressure are at greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

“It is important that their blood pressure measurements be tracked regularly to ensure that they are well-treated.

“This important initiative, supported the BHF, allows people with heart conditions to monitor their blood pressure at home, which reduces the need for travel for consultations.

Blood pressure is given as two figures; systolic — when the heart pushes blood out — and diastolic — when it rests between beats.

It is high when someone reads more than 135/85mmHg (for people under 80) or 145/85mmHg (for those over 80).

Patients are advised to take the test at minimum twice before submitting their results.

Blood pressure readings can also change depending on the time of the day.