One in five Blackburn residents who had blood pressure checks as part of a free health clinic at Vision Express were advised to seek further medical attention.
The drop-in was hosted at the Blackburn Mall store as part of an award-winning initiative between Vision Express and the Stroke Association, to highlight high blood pressure as a contributing factor in around half of all strokes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It educated locals on the risks and signs of stroke, and saw two individuals advised to seek urgent GP attention within a week due to elevated readings.
Connie Pattinson, Vision Express Blackburn store manager, also took the chance to have her blood pressure checked. With no family history of high blood pressure and stroke, Connie was tested three times after her reading was identified as slightly too high by local Stroke Association volunteer John Gott. Connie said: “He recommended I see a GP within the month and mentioned that anyone aged between the age of 40 and 74 can have an NHS health check – almost like a health ‘MOT’, which is an all-over check of general health. I’ve never heard of this before and it’s something I’m keen to get done.
“Everyone has stress in their life - busy weekend, young children, work and that sort of thing, but it’s very quick and easy to get a test done,” Connie reassures. “I’ve put it off and now I know I need to take further action, I will definitely advise other people to have a check up, including my husband.”
Vicky Cheshire, a communications support officer from the Stroke Association, has personal experience of the devastating impact of stroke, as two of her grandparents suffered from the condition. “My nanna has had three previous strokes and my grandad as well. Both were quite badly affected, especially their mobility. My grannie now has to care for my grandad, so strokes don’t only affect the person who has had one, their families lives can be changed too.”
Commenting on the Know Your Blood Pressure event, she added: “It’s not painful to have a check. If you don’t know your blood pressure, you should come and get it done. It’s just two minutes out of your life.”
Store Manager Connie said: “We’re so pleased our customers and local residents were given the opportunity to have their reading taken at the store and we hope it has encouraged them to consider the importance of regular health checks.”
National statistics highlight that within the Blackburn CCG (clinical commissioning group), 2,946 people are stroke survivors, a figure that represents 1.7% of the local population.
Supporting the event was Stroke Association representative, 70-year-old John Gott from Colne. A local volunteer for fourteen years, he was inspired to get involved with the charity after meeting a stroke survivor when he was a volunteer driver in the area. “I really didn’t know anything about stroke until I used to take a gentleman to the local stroke communication support group,” explained John.
He has been shocked recently to see how many young people are affected by stroke. He wants to raise awareness and help to improve the support for people of all ages. He said: “At one time, in the UK one person every five minutes was having a stroke, and that went down to one every three and a half minutes. I believe that due to the Stroke Association’s research and development it’s now back up to one every five minutes again, which is good.”
Vision Express forged its partnership with the Stroke Association to educate customers about stroke and its impact on sight. Up to 60% of people that have had a stroke will experience visual problems, yet one in three are not warned that sight loss could be a problem - or that treatment and support is available. Over half of strokes can be caused by high blood pressure, meaning having the simple check is crucial. It is also possible to identify whether someone has high blood pressure during an eye test.
Offering an eye test to best practice guidelines of the College of Optometrists (COO), each Vision Express optometrist is a qualified eye health professional. To book an eye test at the Blackburn store call 01254 660652, visit The Mall Blackburn, 25 Church Street, Blackburn BB1 5AF or make an online enquiry at: www.visionexpress.com/book-eye-test/
 Stroke Association ‘State of the Nation’ report, January 2016
 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) in 2015/16
About Vision Express
Vision Express is one of the largest optical retailers in the UK and part of GrandVision,the global leader in optical retail operating in more than 40 countries, spanning over 6,500 stores and online.
With almost 400 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.
With around 4,500 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include:
- Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
- International Glaucoma Association
- Macular Society
- Stroke Association
- Temple Street University Hospital