Beware the "silent killer", warns UK charity the Blood Pressure Association, after new research reveals nearly three quarters (72%) of UK adults are unaware of their most vital statistics – their blood pressure numbers.
Data gathered during the BPA's Know your Numbers! Week also revealed 38% of people tested during the UK-wide event had high blood pressure readings.
People with high blood pressure (diagnosed as readings consistently at or above 140/90 mmHg) are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke than people with a healthy blood pressure, and are twice as likely to die from these conditions.
Of the countries in the UK, Wales had the highest incidence of high blood pressure readings at 40% of those tested, with England following closely behind at 38%, then Scotland at 36% and Northern Ireland at 28%.
Bottom of the BPA's blood pressure league regionally were those tested in South Central England where 45% had high blood pressure readings.
Even the "lowest" incidence was 34% in the North West and South East regions, which means one in three tested in these regions had high blood pressure readings.
Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Chairman of UK charity the Blood Pressure Association, said: "It's shocking that 72% of the adults we tested did not know their blood pressure numbers, yet almost 40% of them had high blood pressure readings.
"These people are the lucky ones – high blood pressure is a symptomless condition but, once detected, can be successfully managed. If we are going to prevent the 350 daily strokes and heart attacks caused by high blood pressure, we need to help more people get to know their blood pressure numbers and to lower them."