Skip to main content

Health Matters: Achievements in combating high blood pressure and a forward look

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Health Matters

High blood pressure is currently the third biggest risk factor for contributing to premature death and ill health in England, as outlined in the latest edition of Health Matters.

It is largely preventable and easily managed in most cases. Despite this, England continues to fall behind many other developed countries in terms of our performance in preventing, diagnosing and treating this important risk factor.

In 2014, PHE and a number of partners across local and national government, the health service, voluntary sector and academia came together with the ambition of improving the prevention, early detection and management of high blood pressure in England.

Tackling high blood pressure: from evidence into action was developed from the best evidence and practical experience of the board to support partners at all levels to focus on the work that will have the biggest impact in tackling this condition.

This blog, summaries some of the key achievements made by the various members of the Blood Pressure System Leadership Board since the report was published in 2014.


To support local action on high blood pressure across every part of the pathway (prevention, detection and management), a range of resources have been developed for healthcare professionals, some of these include:

  • Making Every Contact Count (MECC) programme, a suite of resources (MECC website, e-learning sessions, community of practice) developed by Health Education England, supporting health and care providers to utilise the millions of day to day interactions to encourage changes in behaviour, including risk factors for high blood pressure.
  • Tackling high blood pressure through community pharmacy report, which will include recommendations on how the contribution of community pharmacy could be enhanced, to be published by Pharmacy Voice in early 2017.
  • Understand your numbers tool and blood pressure quiz on NHS Choices, with 96,890 and 30,973 completed users to date respectively, to help members of the public understand what their blood pressure and high blood pressure means.

PHE and British Heart Foundation will develop a new blood pressure resource hub, bringing together case studies, data and guidance to support public health and NHS commissioners, and those providing services, to tackle high blood pressure in their local area.


Since 2014, action has been taken to:

  • Reduce salt consumption and improve overall nutrition at population level through:
    • Blood Pressure UK working with Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) to support the launch of the FoodSwitch app, to ensure the 2017 Salt Reduction Targets are met by manufacturers and also supporting Salt Awareness Week 2017 with their own consumer facing ‘Stroke Prevention’ campaign.
    • Continuing the programme of work to reduce the levels of salt in every day foods, the responsibility for this has now moved to PHE.
  • Improve dietary intake and support the delivery of local approaches to reduce excess body weight at population level through:
    • PHE, in partnership with Department of Health’ and Department for Communities and Local Government, updated the Health and Wellbeing Planning Practice Guidance in order to include a chapter on “Food Environments”, supporting action to promote delivery of healthier food environments.
    • Implementation of Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services (GBSF) both nationally and locally, helping to ensure food and drink is provided is produced to higher sustainability and nutritional standards, and support the provision of a more sustainable catering service overall, across a range of settings.
  • Support personal behaviour change on diet, physical activity, alcohol and smoking through:
    • PHE’s ‘One You’ campaign in March 2016, with a focus on seven key behaviours, eating, drinking, moving, smoking, sleep, stress and checking.
    • NHS England’s inclusion of a service delivery plan around delivering MECC in the NHS Standard Contract from April 2016.


Action has been taken to:

  • Increase opportunistic testing through:
    • The Stroke Association’s Know Your Blood Pressure (KYBP) campaign, which has grown by 19% over the last twelve months. In 2017, the Stroke Association and Well Pharmacies will launch a yearlong partnership, during which KYBP will be delivered in every Well location across the UK.
    • The Know your Numbers week initiative from Blood Pressure UK, which gained extensive media coverage, with thousands getting a free check and health advice at a variety of Pressure Stations across the UK.
  • Increase uptake of NHS Health Checks through:
    • PHE’s continual delivery of an extensive offer of support to local teams commissioning and delivering the NHS Health Check programme.
  • Target high-risk and deprived groups through:
  • NHS England introducing a CQUIN from April 2014, aimed at promoting screening and management of physical health risks in people with psychosis.


Action has been taken to:

  • Tackle particular areas of local variation through:
  • Bring practice nearer to treatment guidelines through:
    • BHF launched the Blood Pressure Key Messages Series on 2nd November 2016 in collaboration with a range of partners from the Blood Pressure System Leadership Board. BHF is also in the process of planning a national Blood Pressure Conference for 2017.
  • Support adherence to drug therapy and lifestyle change through:
    • Since 2014, the NHS England Patient Activation Measure (PAM) Learning Set of 5 CCGs and the UK Renal Registry have been carrying out projects to measure patient activation and find ways to support people with long term conditions to become more involved in their health and care.

The update we have provided only highlights some, but not all, of the actions that have taken place by members of the Blood Pressure System Leadership Board since the development of the action plan. However, we know that England’s performance in terms of diagnosing and treating high blood pressure is still sub-optimal.

The Blood Pressure System Leadership Board plans to update Tackling high blood pressure: from evidence into action with current evidence and new stakeholder commitments to ensure we continue to take action against this “silent killer”.

Health Matters
Health Matters is a resource for professionals which brings together the latest data and evidence; makes the case for effective public health interventions and highlights tools and resources that can facilitate local or national action. Visit the Health Matters area of GOV.UK or sign up to receive the latest updates through our e-bulletin. If you found this blog helpful, please view other Health Matters blogs.


Sharing and comments

Share this page