Tesco to offer free blood pressure checks as Welsh people deprioritise routine health checks

People across Wales are being urged to encourage their loved ones to take up a free blood pressure check on Valentine’s Day.

This comes as new figures reveal many people are struggling to prioritise their health during the cost-of-living crisis.

New research released today by Tesco shows that Welsh people are more likely to service their cars (55%) and household boilers (60%) each year than attend a routine medical examination (21%), with just over half (53%) more likely to prioritise the health of their loved ones over their own health.

Routine checks for people in are the simplest and most effective way of Wales residents spotting high blood pressure, which is associated with around 50% of heart attacks and strokes. The NHS estimates that during the next five years, blood pressure checks at local pharmacies could prevent over 5,000 heart attacks, more than 8,000 strokes and save over 4,000 lives.

Just 29% of Welsh adults attend a routine medical check at least once a year, and almost two in three (61%) of adults say they haven’t had their blood pressure checked in the past 12 months, according to Tesco’s research. This compares to:

• 59% of people servicing their vehicle annually
• 63% servicing their household boiler every 12 months.
• 64% of people checking their vehicle’s tyre pressure at least once a year

In addition, the latest data suggests that the after-effects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have increased the chances of risk factors such as high blood pressure going undiagnosed:

• BHF estimates that as many as 5 million adults are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure in the UK (1)
• Analysis by the BHF Data Science Centre at Health Data Research UK found nearly half a million people missed out on starting medication to lower their blood pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic (2)
• Previous analysis by Tesco found that more than half of those under 40 (57%) said they had deprioritised their health as a direct result of the rising cost of living (3)

Amid these warning signs, Tesco is working with the British Heart Foundation to encourage more Welsh people to routinely check their blood pressure, for free, at the supermarket’s network of in-store pharmacies, with thousands of appointments available. Based on NHS analysis, these appointments could help detect thousands of cases of high blood pressure and prevent hundreds of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes.

Among the pharmacies offering the free tests are the Tesco Extra stores in Cardiff, Newport, and Pontypridd as well as the Tesco store in Penarth.

Jason Tarry, CEO, UK & ROI at Tesco, said: “Reducing high blood pressure is one of the biggest changes people can make to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes, but most people don’t realise that they can get their blood pressure checked for free, without an appointment, at an in-store Tesco pharmacy.

“Seventy-one % of people told us that supporting the health of their loved ones is a top priority, and there’s no better way to show your loved ones that you care than by encouraging them to take easy measures to look after themselves.

“This February, we have thousands of blood pressure checks available at our pharmacies in communities across the country, helping to make checking your blood pressure as simple as doing your weekly shop.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Every week in the UK, around 4,000 people are admitted to hospital for a heart attack or stroke, with treatable high blood pressure contributing to many of these life-threatening events.

“This means the opportunity for a free blood pressure check could be one of the most valuable deals on offer when doing your weekly shop. It’s quick, easy and could even save your life.”

“At a time when the health service is under incredible strain, making blood pressure checks and health information readily available in places like Tesco supermarkets has the potential to help millions of people improve their health and prevent countless heart attacks and strokes.”

The research also found that only 6% of Welsh people have never had their blood pressure measured in their lifetime. Of those men, 26% believe they only need their blood pressure checking if they have a medical condition or are taking medication.

The Tesco research also found that young people are less likely to be checking their blood pressure regularly. 48% of those under 35 haven’t had their blood pressure checked in the last twelve months, compared to 37% across all age groups. Of those aged 18-24 who have never had a blood pressure check, almost 1 in 4 (24%) believe they’re too young to need a blood pressure check, 1 in 5 (22%) think they are in good health and 1 in 6 (15%) simply don’t know how to get it checked

To find your nearest Tesco Pharmacy and book a free blood pressure check visit: www.tesco.com/pharmacy.

Tesco has also created a series of recipes, in association with the British Heart Foundation, that help people make positive changes to support heart health. Customers can visit the Tesco Real Food Hub  for more details and inspiration for their Valentine’s menu.