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Health and wellbeing programme helps people to reduce their blood pressure

10 January 2023

  • Bay Health and Care Partners

A 12-week ‘Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind’ programme saw 81% of participants improve their blood pressure and 65% of participants improve their wellbeing.

The concept for Healthy Heart, Health Mind began when the Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) were looking at data for the local area and noticed some of the wards in Lancaster and Morecambe had considerably higher statistics than the national average for heart attacks and strokes.  

Heart and circulatory disease, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK. In Lancaster and Morecambe death rates from coronary heart disease were almost 38% above national figures, 32% above for strokes; and premature deaths under 75 relating to circulatory disease averaged at 58% above national rate. 

It is important to keep a healthy blood pressure, which will help to keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure reading between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. Small changes such as eating more fruit and vegetables and adding less salt to food, doing more exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can make a big difference. Lowering blood pressure by just 10mmHG lowers your risk of a stroke or heart attack by a fifth. 

Sarah Baines, Development Lead for Lancaster Integrated Care Community (ICC), said: “The aim of the Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind sessions was to give people with high blood pressure the skills and knowledge to make necessary changes to help to lower their blood pressure. These could include making lifestyle changes which will prevent them from going on medication.” 

The Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind programme was attended by 166 residents from Lancaster. Attendees were aged between 40 and 74 and had been diagnosed with high blood pressure by their GP. 

The programme was led by a local qualified instructor Cheryl Towey, Lancaster ICC and Lancaster Primary Care Network (PCN). 

People who attended the course: 

  • had their blood pressure taken at the start and end of the course to see if there was a reduction. Those who did not see a reduction were given further advice and support. 
  • were asked to complete a health questionnaire and Warwick-Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale questionnaire to see if there were any underlying health or wellbeing concerns that needed signposting to support services. 
  • took part in weekly advice and support sessions centred around reducing blood pressure. Topics included alcohol intake, diet, exercise, caffeine, salt and smoking cessation.  
  • took part in a weekly exercise session. 

Feedback for participants included: 

  • “Have realised what I was doing before wasn't the best, have changed exercise choices and food choices.” 
  • “Feel more relaxed and confident, enjoyed the exercise and discussions, learned that deep breathing helps me relax, the exercises help my knees.” 
  • "Feel better, gained confidence, learnt how blood pressure affects you, eating healthily, joined a gym to help self-more, have improved wellbeing.” 
  • “Talking about this stuff which you don't do with regular friends, it's brought things up to the surface, more knowledge about blood pressure, healthier foods, exercise and have lost 1/2 a kg.” 

Sarah Baines added: “It was amazing to see people set and achieve goals and many felt that they were able to have important conversations and that they had peer support. We saw many participants increase in confidence, motivation and optimism. Some saw considerable weight loss and others formed better pain control for their long-term conditions.  

“We are currently looking for further funding to put on more sessions in the future.”

You can find useful resources on how to keep your heart and brain healthy at the following link https://www.healthierlsc.co.uk/healthyhearts