Thursday, 16 October 2008

Blood pressure facts and figures

  • High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. There is also increasing evidence that it is a risk factor for vascular dementia. (1)
  • One in three adults in the UK (16 million) have high blood pressure. (3)
  • Around a third of people with high blood pressure do not know that they have it, as there are no obvious symptoms. This is why it is often called the 'silent killer'. (5)
  • High blood pressure is a level consistently at or above 140mmHg and/or 90mmHg. (2)
  • 31 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women have high blood pressure. (5)
  • People with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke and twice as likely to die from these as people with a normal blood pressure. (3)
  • but what is the absolute risk?
  • Approximately 62,000 unnecessary deaths from stroke and heart attacks occur due to poor blood pressure control. (4)
  • High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms, the only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure regularly measured.
  • More than 77 per cent of men and 71 per cent of women with high blood pressure are either not being treated, or being controlled to below 140/90 mmHg. (5)
  • Most people with high blood pressure who need to take medications, will need to take two or more to ensure that their blood pressure is lowered down to a target of 140/85mmHg (2)
  • The risks increase as blood pressure rises, whether you have high blood pressure or a normal blood pressure. Between the age of 40 and 70, for every rise of 20mmHg systolic or every 10mmHg diastolic, the risk of heart disease and stroke doubles; for the range 115/75 up to 185/115mmHg. (6)
  • Crabsallover Blood Pressure 130/70 (11/06) - so I'm at almost double risk of heart disease or stroke than someone with normal BP 115/75. But was is the absolute risk?

  • Londoners have the lowest average blood pressure. Northern England tends to have higher rates of high blood pressure than Southern England. (5)
  • Someone with high blood pressure that is well controlled reduces their risk of stroke and heart disease to almost that of a person who does not have high blood pressure.


1. Forette F, Seux M, Staessen J. Prevention of dementia in randomised double-blind placebo controlled systolic hypertension in Europe (Syst-Eur) trial. The Lancet 1998;352:1346-51

2. Williams B et al. Guidelines for management of hypertension: report of the fourth working party of the British Hypertension Society, 2004 - BHS IV. The Journal of Human Hypertension 2004;18 :139-185 (available on the British Hypertension Society web site at

3.The Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health 2001 (

4.He F, MacGregor G. Cost of poor blood pressure control in the UK : 62 000 unnecessary deaths per year. Journal of Human Hypertension 2003; 17: 455-457 (

5. Health Survey for England 2006. Department of Health publication available at

6. National Institutes of Health and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of high blood pressure 2003 (

No comments: