PLANS are in place to train 160 ‘workplace blood pressure champions’ in St Helens to help combat cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death and disability in England, causing a death every four minutes.

A new coalition led by Public Health England and NHS England has announced ambitions to improve the detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (A-B-C), the three biggest causes of cardiovascular disease.

Matt Davies, St Helens Council’s head of public health commissioning, told the People’s Board this week that over the next year, a number of activities are planned to raise awareness of A-B-C in the borough.

Mr David said: “In St Helens, I think we can say that it’s actually quite positive, in terms of identification of these issues.

“When we look at general practice records it shows things like atrial fibrillation and blood pressure, in terms of the rate of identification, compared to what we would expect to observe is actually better than when we compare it to the north west in England.

“That’s a real positive and something which should be celebrated.

“But there’s obviously still a lot of work to do and more that we can do as well to reduce the risk of things like stroke and heart attacks in St Helens, which are still issues for the borough.”

In 2018, the Cheshire and Merseyside High Blood Pressure Partnership Board (CHAMPS) were successful in a bid for £120,000 from the British Heart Foundation’s innovation fund to deliver further innovation across the region.

This money will fund training for 160 workplace blood pressure champions in St Helens by March 2020.

The blood pressure champions will be tasked with carrying out a minimum of 1,100 new blood pressure checks over 18 months.

They will all attend a two-hour training session and will be provided with a blood pressure monitor to take back to their respective workplace.

Approximately 20,000 people in St Helens residents are expected to have high blood pressure and are yet to be diagnosed.

Since last September, St Helens has had two health kiosks serving the borough.

One is located in the town centre in the Smokefree Hub and the other is provided free of charge to local workplaces on a six-week term.

To date the machines have undertaken 2,925 tests on 1,914 individuals have been carried out by the health kiosks.

Of those tested, 72.8% of users had a heart age greater than their actual age, 21.3% were identified as having a high blood pressure and 2.3% had a high heart rate.

The intention for the new project is to engage with local workplaces whom are currently being supported by St Helens Council and which have previously had the health kiosk on their site.

The People’s Board approved the plans.