Four million working age Brits are now living with untreated high blood pressure, new estimates show.
The “silent killer” often has no symptoms but leaves people at risk of heart attack or stroke.
A quarter of UK population, or around 14.4 million people, have high blood pressure but this is first population data to suggest how many are not elderly.
British Heart Foundation (BHF) analysis found that 1.3 million people with the condition are aged under 45.
The charity is urging people to get their blood pressure checked.
Chief executive Simon Gillespie said: “These figures show that millions of adults of all ages are living with untreated high blood pressure which is a ticking time bomb that puts their future health in jeopardy.
“Getting your blood pressure under control is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.”
Untreated high blood pressure can also increase the risk of vascular dementia but can usually be managed through lifestyle changes and medication.
The BHF analysis of Office for National Statistics data suggests almost one in ten of the 41.5 million adults aged 16 to 64 in the UK have untreated high blood pressure.
Gwynneth Clay, 56, a project manager from Edinburgh, suffered a haemorrhagic stroke in 2016.
“I have always been quite physically active, and I was on a climbing wall when I suffered a stroke. It was a big shock to me, as in my mind a stroke was something that mostly affected older people.
“When I got to hospital I found out that my blood pressure was through the roof. I don’t know how long I had high blood pressure for, but I suspect for quite a long time.
“The warning signs were there. My life was very busy and I felt very stressed at times, and I wish I had taken high blood pressure more seriously.
“It is the hardest thing about what happened – that there is a good chance I could have avoided it by acting on early warning signs.”
Of the 14.4 million people estimated to have high blood pressure only nine million have been diagnosed by their GP.
Simon Gillespie added: “Having your blood pressure checked takes less than five minutes, but it is all too easy to put it on the back burner in our hectic day-to-day lives.
“That’s why we’re urging everyone to take a moment this month and get their pressure checked – it could ultimately save your life.”
Professor Jamie Waterall, national lead for cardiovascular disease at Public Health England, said: “If you’re over 40, getting your free NHS Health Check is a simple way to find out your blood pressure as well as your risk of other serious conditions.
“Diagnosing high blood pressure earlier and managing it will save thousands of lives and prevent years spent in ill-health.”
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