Around one third of the population have high blood pressure, which we know predisposes people to heart attacks and strokes. Both are major causes of disability and premature death in the UK. If everyone followed advice to eat less, exercise more, stop smoking and drink only in moderation, there would be far less heart disease. In the meantime, thanks to funding from the British Heart Foundation, in our laboratory we are investigating high blood pressure by studying the function of small blood vessels. The objective is to develop more effective approaches and treatments.
I am also a consultant geriatrician and work in a Manchester hospital, where I see a system semi-paralysed because people who are medically able to go home can’t leave because there is no capacity to look after them in the community. If all those so-called delayed discharges were dealt with by resourcing social care, I reckon it would free up perhaps two thirds of the beds in wards. For me, that is one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare.
We know that more people will be living longer than ever, and it is vital that they stay healthy. Regularly monitoring of blood pressure and cholesterol levels is essential. If everyone would only listen to what the health professionals advise them to do, we could prevent most illnesses. It really is as simple as that.