THOUSANDS of people across Slough, Windsor, Maidenhead, Bracknell and Ascot are going undiagnosed with a silent killer, East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have said.
High blood pressure – known as hypertension – rarely has noticeable symptoms and if left untreated increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
The CCGs say that in Slough only 16,400 people have been diagnosed with the condition – while it is estimated that 29,400 will have it. In Windsor, and Maidenhead only 17,300 are being treated while 35,200 people will have it. And in Bracknell and Ascot 15,800 have been diagnosed out of a possible 30,100.
In all areas, more than 20 per cent of people will have high blood pressure with Windsor and Maidenhead the highest at 23 per cent. And in all three areas, only around half have been diagnosed.
Dr Anant Sachdev, one of the cardiology clinical leads for the East Berks CCGs, said: “We know there are thousands of people across Bracknell and Ascot, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, who have undiagnosed hypertension. Our aim is to diagnosis more people so we can treat them and avoid complications such as stroke - one of the most debilitating and soul-destroying illnesses for many patients and families.
“Current guidelines say we should all have our blood pressure checked at least once every five years.
“If you have high blood pressure, or it is close to 140/90mmHg, you should have it checked more regularly. Your GP or nurse will be able to tell you how often.
He added: “While we don’t know the cause of high blood pressure, we do know our lifestyles can have an impact, including obesity, lack of exercise and drinking too much alcohol. In a very small number of people, there is a specific cause (known as ‘secondary hypertension’).
“Some people may be taking medication or have a hormonal problem that causes high blood pressure.
“Certain ethnic groups are more prone to developing it – for example, African-Caribbean communities. We think they are more sensitive to salt. African-Caribbean people also appear to be more at risk of severe hypertension than other ethnic groups.”
The warning coincides with World Hypertension Day today (May 19) which aims to promote public awareness of hypertension and to encourage people nationwide to prevent and control the condition.