New research released today [1] reveals that 70% of UK adults can remember 5 or more different sets of numbers unique to them – nearly half of the nation could memorise their national insurance and car registration numbers, and over a third knew how many sugars their friend has in their tea and the age of their family pet, while only 1 in 10 people knew their blood pressure numbers – the one set of numbers that could save their lives.

The study, commissioned by national charity Blood Pressure UK, to celebrate the launch of its annual campaign Know Your Numbers! Week (16th – 22nd September), highlights a worrying ignorance amongst Brits when it comes to blood pressure.  Over 70% of the nation couldn’t remember what their blood pressure reading was the last time it was taken and only 30% understood what blood pressure readings mean, while almost 50% understood exactly how many daily calories to consume.  

9 out of 10 people asked had not had their blood pressure taken in the last two years, which is why as part of Know Your Numbers! Week Blood Pressure UK encourages adults across the UK to know their blood pressure numbers and take the necessary action to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Katharine Jenner, Chief Executive of Blood Pressure UK, says “We are twice as likely to know our lottery numbers as we are our blood pressure numbers; knowing your lottery numbers might not win you the lottery, but knowing your blood pressure numbers might save your life.”

High blood pressure is the UK’s biggest silent killer; affecting 16 million people in the UK; one third of whom are unaware that they are living with the condition.  High blood pressure is one of the largest causes of premature death and disability due to the potentially fatal strokes, heart attacks, heart failure or even kidney failure it causes [3].  However, it is largely preventable, over 120,000 heart attacks and strokes a year in the UK could be avoided if people lowered their blood pressure – the first step is a simple, painless, free, two minute test [4].

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK says, “We are urging everyone to become more aware of this silent killer.  From 16th to 22nd September, Blood Pressure UK is running the nation’s largest annual blood pressure testing and awareness event, offering free blood pressure checks across the UK in pharmacies, supermarkets, libraries, hospitals, GP surgeries, health clubs, leisure centres and even football grounds.

“High blood pressure is a dangerous condition when not managed properly and we hope everyone will take advantage of the free blood pressure checks in their area to lower their risk of having a stroke or a heart attack”.

As expected, it is the over 65’s who are the most aware when it comes to blood pressure, with almost 20% of 65+ year olds knowing their blood pressure numbers off by heart, compared to just 4% of 18-24 year olds and only 6% of 25-35 year oldsAlmost 60% of 65+ year olds know what blood pressure readings mean, while only 20% of 18-24 year olds do.  This dramatic contrast in knowledge is particularly worrying, as it is this younger age group who can make simple steps to prevent high blood pressure occurring later in life.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s National Director for Health and Wellbeing, is also calling for people to start thinking more seriously about their health, saying:  “There’s a huge burden of disease associated with conditions that can be avoided if we know we are at risk – such as knowing whether our blood pressure is too high or too low – and make simple changes to our behaviour and lifestyles. Thinking about our health early is vital to living a long and prosperous life.”

For further information on Blood Pressure UK and Know Your Numbers Week, go to: 


To find your nearest check visit www.bloodpressureuk/kyn/freebpchecks/findfreecheck


Facts about blood pressure from Blood Pressure UK:

  • One in three adults in the UK – 16 million – has high blood pressure. It is estimated that a third of these (~5 million) don’t know they have the condition.
  • High blood pressure has no obvious signs or symptoms. The only way to find out if you have the condition is to have a blood pressure check.
  • Untreated high blood pressure is the major risk factor for stroke and heart attack. It is also a risk factor for heart and kidney disease and vascular dementia.
  • A healthy blood pressure is a level of 120/80mmHg or less. If readings are consistently at or above 140/90mmHg, high blood pressure is diagnosed, and action should be taken to lower it. 
  • If your blood pressure is raised, you can lower it by leading a healthier lifestyle, and, if necessary, by taking medication as directed by your doctor.

Blood Pressure UK’s ‘Top five tips for a healthy blood pressure’:

  1. Cut down on salt – Reducing your salt intake it the quickest way to lower your blood pressure.  Don’t add it when cooking or at the table and check food labels – aim to eat less than 6g a day.
  2. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least five different portions every day.
  3. Watch your weight – try to reach the right weight for your height.
  4. Exercise regularly – that doesn’t have to mean the gym, how about a regular lunchtime walk? 30 minutes five times a week is ideal. If you are unsure about taking up exercise, ask your GP
  5. Drink alcohol in moderation – no more than 3-4 units a day for men and no more than 2-3 units for women (a pint of normal strength beer = 2 units, a medium glass of wine = 2 units).


Ref [1] Survey details (full data tables are available with this release)

Research carried out by The Leadership Factor Ltd in August 2013, using their online panel ‘YourSayPays’.

2007 respondents completed the survey.

YourSayPays is a nationally representative UK online panel established in 2007, with over 50,000 opt-in UK adults.

Panellists are recruited through social media, Google ad-words and affiliate programmes.

Panellists are invited to complete online surveys in return for a small cash incentive.  Panellists can choose to refuse / abort surveys at any time.  YourSayPays is owned and managed by The Leadership Factor Ltd.

The Leadership Factor Ltd are members of the MRS and adhere to the MRS Code of Conduct and Data Protection Act, and have ISO9001 for Quality and ISO27001 for Data Security.

Ref [2] Health Survey for England 2003. Department of Health publication available at

Ref [3]

Ref [4] There are approx. 150,000 heart attacks and strokes a year in the UK, of which an estimated 80% are preventable



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