21,000 at risk of stroke

A QUARTER of the Hartlepool population is living with high blood pressure.

A worrying 21,000 adults in the town could be living with the threat of a stroke or heart attack.

And unless they do something about it, the first time they realise something is wrong is when they become seriously ill.

An expert with the Stroke Association said the town’s figures came as no surprise to him – and said they were actually better than most other parts of the country.

The average high blood pressure rate for the North-East is 35 per cent and the rate for the UK as a whole is 40 per cent.

Mike Scollins, the Association’s Professional Awareness Raising Co-ordinator, admitted: “It is down to the way we lead our busy lives. People don’t have time to prepare fresh food. It is the nature of the world we live in.

“A third of the people within this area are walking around with it and they won’t know until something happens, like a stroke or a heart attack.”

He urged people to combat the problem by making small changes to their lifestyles.

The causes of high blood pressure include being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising enough and having too much salt in diets.

Humans only need six grammes of salt a day yet people eat about 15 grammes a day with their meals.

“Salt raises blood pressure. So does smoking. It is all the lifestyle issues which are the problem,” said Mike.

But he also reassured people that small changes could make a huge difference such as cutting back on smoking, drinking less, eating healthily and exercising.

He said the first action that people should take is getting their blood pressure checked at least once a year.

“You don’t even need to go to a doctors. Pharmacies will do it. So will the Stroke Association and it is painless. It only involves a cuff being put on your arm for a few minutes. Get it checked.”

Nearly 1,700 people suffer a stroke each year in Hartlepool.

The Mail has teamed up with the Stroke Association which is half way through a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the devastating condition.

We are spreading the word about the importance of the public being more aware of strokes, their causes and what to do if someone has one.

Mike described the Mail’s support as “excellent.

“What we are doing is preparing for the future. We are taking action now to prevent people having strokes.

“We are getting across the message that it is the small things that can make a big difference.”

l FOR further details on stroke and how to take action, see the Mail’s Health matters feature on page 12.