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A blood pressure pilot programme has been established in Keighley to advise residents on how to prevent high blood pressure and related future illnesses.

Known as ‘Blood Pressure Connect’ the programme has been created by Keighley Healthy Living, a charity supporting the Keighley community, funded by Heart Research UK and with support from Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership and GP practice groups Wharfedale Airedale Craven Alliance (WACA) and Modality AWC.

In the UK, high blood pressure (hypertension) is the third biggest cause of premature death after smoking and poor diet. It is also the largest single known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and related disability, with 50% of heart attacks and strokes associated with the condition.

Within Bradford district, more people aged under 75 are likely to become seriously ill from cardiovascular disease than the national average, with Keighley having one of the largest numbers of people living with high blood pressure in the area.

To tackle the problem, between September 2022 and September 2023, Modality and WACA GP practices sent letters to patients living in Keighley with stage one hypertension to invite them onto the project. Those who registered were offered an initial appointment with healthcare practitioners from Keighley Healthy Living (such as an exercise coordinator and lifestyle change coach) to learn what high blood pressure is, why it can cause health conditions and how it can be controlled through medication, behaviour, and lifestyle changes.

Participants then had a health assessment which measured blood pressure, Body Mass Index, alcohol and nicotine use, and physical activity levels. They identified desired lifestyle changes and were supported to access community-based, free, or low-cost health and care support around diet, physical activity, and social and mental health. Patients were also given a blood pressure monitor to empower and enable them to measure their blood pressure regularly at home.

One participant said: “The programme was brilliant; it was really informative and an eye-opener for me.”

Helen Maguire, Project Development Manager at Keighley Healthy Living, said: “The programme has demonstrated the value of embedding health initiatives at a grassroots level within the community. Working together with partners using a holistic approach has proven to be a key element in supporting those living with raised blood pressure in Keighley.

“Our support takes into consideration the determinants of health and removing barriers which can prevent the self-management of the condition. 61 people registered on the programme and the outcomes were positive: 94% of people who completed the programme made at least one lifestyle change, and 70% of people saw a reduction in blood pressure.”

A local campaign, ‘It’s a GP Practice Thing’, aims to increase public awareness of how GP practices are working, including community based, non-medical support services which are available to help meet people’s needs.