New funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) awarded to NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will pave the way for a ground-breaking community based approach to detect high blood pressure.

The grant, worth just under £100,000 over two years, will be used to recruit and train local blood pressure champions.

Once recruited, the champions will be trained on how to take blood pressure and interpret the readings, when to refer to other services, what lifestyle advice to give and the risks of high blood pressure. They will then create, advertise and run local blood pressure events, with the support of the CCG, within their own communities.

Their main aim will be to provide 5,000 tests each year to the people of Gloucestershire. It is hoped that this will identify some of the estimated 65,000 people who are currently living with undiagnosed high blood pressure in the county.

The project will firstly target the more deprived and BME communities in Gloucester city.

Service specifications are currently being developed and the programme is planned to go live in April 2019.

NHS Gloucestershire CCG will collaborate with Healthy Living Pharmacies, the Voluntary Sector, Healthy Lifestyles Service, the Friendship Cafe and locally run groups in Gloucester for the project.

Dr Sheena Yerburgh, Clinical Lead for Circulatory Diseases at NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said: “High blood pressure is a silent killer as it usually has no symptoms, so it is really important that people get their blood pressure checked. The good news is that it is easily treatable and simple lifestyle measures can result in significant improvement.

“We are really pleased to have been awarded this funding from the BHF as it is enabling us to work creatively with lots of community partners to improve the detection of high blood pressure. We estimate that there are 65,160 adults with high blood pressure in Gloucestershire who have not been diagnosed, so this project really will make a difference.”

Clive Lewis, the BHF’s Health Service Engagement Lead for the South West, said: “We were impressed with Gloucestershire CCG’s community centered approach to targeting the problem of high blood pressure and the close working relationship they have with a number of other local organisations, which will help to detect more people living with the condition.

“This funding is among the £1.5 million that the BHF has awarded across the country to test community-based approaches to blood pressure testing. We urgently need to find the millions of people across the UK living with undiagnosed high blood pressure, and this innovative project in Gloucestershire will help us in doing that.”

People with high blood pressure are up to three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. According to the BHF, around 50% of heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure.