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Getting your blood pressure checked for a healthier future

24/05/2022

More than 100 north Oxfordshire men and women are on their way to healthier living after attending a blood pressure awareness event run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH).

Participants had their blood pressure checked at Banbury Madni Masjid last week (Thursday 19 and Friday 20 May), learning all about what can be done to keep it at a healthy level.

The event was hosted by the Trust's Here for Health team, a health improvement advice centre for patients, staff, and visitors, with support from the Cherwell District Council Move Together team and the mosque.

Kate Blayney is a Cardiac Rehabilitation Manager within the Heart Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on a secondment leading the Here for Health team. She said: "As a Cardiac Nurse I have been thrilled to be able to lead on this project which focuses on primary prevention.

"For every 10 people who are diagnosed with high blood pressure, a further seven remain undiagnosed and untreated, so it is really important to speak with people in the community to raise awareness.

"We are delighted to work with our partners to help improve the health and wellbeing of the local population and the communities we care for."

After several months, the participants' blood pressure will be taken again to see how it has changed, to measure the impact of actions taken, and to potentially provide further advice.

Yasmin Kaduji, who coordinated the event at Banbury Madni Masjid, said: "We know the mosque is a trusted place for our community, so anything we can do with our partners to raise awareness of health issues in this way is hugely beneficial for them.

"Following the pandemic, where people might be nervous attending hospital or visiting their GP, we know members of our community may feel more comfortable visiting the mosque, and we were delighted to open our doors and host this health awareness event with our partners.

"We had such a great turnout and, working with OUH and Cherwell District Council, we are delighted to support so many people and to make a difference."

The Banbury event was aimed at people who may not otherwise have access to important health information or treatment.

Dr Hannah Iqbal, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at OUH, said: "It was a privilege to join with Banbury Madni Masjid and Cherwell District Council to run this event and see such a great turnout from the local community.

"It also showed us that there is huge potential for us to think differently about how we can deliver services outside the walls of our hospitals, and to meet people where they are.

"We care for a diverse group of people from all backgrounds, and we have launched a new Trust-wide programme of work looking at how we can identify and take action on health inequalities in our population. We are looking forward to working with our services and partners to run similar events in the future."

Move Together is a county-wide programme funded by Oxfordshire County Council and is coordinated by Active Oxfordshire in collaboration with district councils to help people most affected by COVID-19 to be more active.

Laura Thomas, the Coordinator from the Cherwell District Council Move Together Team, said: "We aim to help people to improve their health and wellbeing through physical activity, in particular helping those manage certain health conditions through being more active, including high blood pressure.

"We take a self-centred, personalised approach to explore what movement participants would like to engage in, help set goals, and provide motivation and other support to start them on their physical activity journey.

"It has been fantastic working with partners to enhance our community offer, and we hope to have helped people make positive life choices and changes to their lifestyle to impact their future health and wellbeing."

Rosalind Jones, Trainee Health Improvement Practitioner at Oxfordshire County Council, said: "We have a big opportunity to support residents to monitor their own blood pressure and make lifestyle changes which can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

"We're really pleased to be working with Here for Health at OUH to fund this home blood pressure monitoring pilot with Banbury Mosque, and to empower communities by providing them with the tools and support to be informed and take control of their own blood pressure and cardiovascular health."

Blood pressure – what you need to know

May is May Measurement Month and Tuesday 17 May was World Hypertension Day.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, puts people at an increased risk of developing a range of medical problems such as heart attacks, strokes, eye problems, kidney disease, heart failure and heart rhythm problems.

Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it.

For most people high blood pressure develops as they get older, without an obvious underlying reason, and it can be safely controlled and looked after by their GP.

It is possible to have hypertension for many years without having any symptoms – the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have it measured.

Healthy adults aged over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years. Testing is available at GP surgeries, some pharmacies, or via a home testing kit.

There is more information about high blood pressure, including causes, treatment, and prevention, on the NHS website.

Pictured, from left: Dr Hannah Iqbal (Director of Strategy and Partnerships, OUH), Claire Hubner (Physical Activity Project Support Officer, Cherwell District Council), Yasmin Kaduji (from Banbury Madni Masjid), Kate Blayney (Service Development Manager, Here for Health, OUH), Laura Thomas (Community Development Partner, Cherwell District Council), Natasha Regisford-Reimmer (Health Promotion Practitioner, Here for Health, OUH), Michele Mannion (Sport & Physical Activity Project Support Assistant, Cherwell District Council)