University’s cardiac team help raise awareness of high blood pressure as part of May Measurement Month

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Cardiology researchers at Swansea University have played a key role in helping to raise awareness of high blood pressure with a number of local screening events for the public as part of May Measurement Month.

It saw the University work closely with Morriston Hospital to motivate individuals to take control of their own health, believing that ‘knowing their numbers’ might help to encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

The team leading the event were Dr Emma Rees and Miss Sam Hopkinson from the University’s College of Human and Health Sciences, Dr Libby Ellins of Swansea University Medical School and Dr Manju Krishnan, the lead stroke physician at Morriston Hospital.

The public screenings took place at Swansea University, Townhill Community Centre and at Morriston Hospital with the latter being possible due to the close collaboration with Dr Krishnan.

A large team of student cardiac physiologists, medical students, nurses and researchers took blood pressure readings and gave advice to over 700 individuals across four days – with around one in 10 people having high blood pressure that they were unaware of.

The events were part of May Measurement Month, an international campaign and research study which aims to raise public awareness of the condition and screen one million individuals in 2018.

Those with high blood pressure are frequently asymptomatic and the condition significantly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, with 10 million lives being lost each year due to high blood pressure.

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Dr Emma Rees, Clinical Scientist at Swansea University’s Health and Wellbeing Academy said:

“These events have been very successful, but we know this is just a drop in the ocean. To maximise the impact on local health we need to spread the message wider.

“Many people have high blood pressure without feeling unwell and the longer it goes untreated the more likely it is that the heart and arteries will be damaged.

“In modern society, most people know that they should maintain a healthy weight, be active and not smoke, but not everyone makes healthy choices.

“For some, being given evidence of the impact of their choices on blood pressure might provide the motivation to make a change.”

Dr Manju Krishnan, Consultant Stroke Physician at Morriston Hospital said:

“We know that high blood pressure is one of the key risk factors for strokes and mini-strokes and many patients have undiagnosed high blood pressure when they present with stroke and TIA.

“Early recognition and management of high blood pressure can certainly reduce the risks of vascular complications such as strokes and heart attacks.”

Christine Morrell, Executive Director of Therapies and Health Science at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board added:

“This project demonstrates the close collaborative working between Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Swansea University.

“Working together on this public health initiative has enabled us to reach more people and use the skills of our staff and students to highlight the importance of blood pressure checks.”