High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” as, despite often being symptomless, it can lead to heart attacks and strokes. As our workforce ages and is increasingly sedentary and overweight, it is becoming a growing workplace health and wellbeing issue too. This makes Know Your Numbers Week this month an important health promotion opportunity for your organisation.
Employee health and wellbeing – make your workers aware of the dangers of high blood pressure
This week, from 9-15 September, is Know Your Numbers Week, the national blood pressure testing event run by Blood Pressure UK and designed to get people checking their blood pressure and raising awareness of the health and wellbeing dangers of high blood pressure.
The week will see hundreds of “Pressure Stations” being set up around the country to offer free blood pressure checks, enabling thousands of people to get a free blood pressure check. The aim is to encourage adults to know their blood pressure numbers and to take the necessary action to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure.
To find out where your nearest pressure station, or to get involved more directly as an organisation, check out the Blood Pressure UK micrositededicated to the week.
Pressure stations will commonly be located at pharmacies, within workplaces (which is a key way to get involved), within GP surgeries, hospitals, health clubs, leisure centres, shopping centres and supermarkets.
Especially as our working population ages, high blood pressure and other heart and circulatory diseases are becoming a growing issue, the British Heart Foundation highlighted in May.
It argued that the number of people dying of heart and circulatory diseases before the age of 75 had risen for the first time in 50 years.
Health promotion messages
Know Your Numbers Week is also a good opportunity to promote and communicate important health and wellbeing messages around blood pressure. This can include what is considered “normal” or safe in terms of blood pressure and, if your blood pressure is high, what you can do about it.
This can include changing or improving your diet, exercise levels and weight but it may also mean the need to visit your GP if medication is required.
More widely, Optima Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Lucy Wright highlights that, as an organisation, an event such as this can be a good moment to step back and reflect on whether there are factors within your workplace culture or environment that are encouraging unhealthy behaviours which may, in turn, contribute to higher blood pressure.
“Whether you have a long-hours culture or the level of pressure or demands you put on your workers; travel and commuting; the healthiness (or not) of the canteen or vending machine food that you offer; the opportunities that workers have to get out and be active either during the day or at lunchtime – all these can be factors that can contribute to higher blood pressure levels,” she says.
“The fact high blood pressure is normally symptomless means it can easily be ignored and, even if someone gets tested, they may not understand what the numbers mean or what to do about it if their blood pressure is high. That is where events such as Know Your Numbers! Week can help. Just as importantly, ongoing health promotion and awareness-raising by employers can also make a real difference,” she adds.