PEOPLE across Somerset are being urged to get tested for a simple-to-treat 'silent killer'.

High blood pressure, which causes more than half of all strokes and heart attack in Somerset, is quick and simple to diagnose and to treat.

NHS Somerset, together with Somerset Council, is launching its biggest-ever campaign, ‘Take the Pressure Off’, with the aim of testing thousands of residents to increase awareness and early detection of the condition.

The initiative started with workplace testing at Suez, the contractor for Somerset Waste Partnership, yesterday (Thursday, February 8).

Over the coming months testing events will be held across the county at sporting venues and workplaces.

Many people will have no symptoms of high blood pressure, but it can cause serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke and kidney problems if unchecked.

'Take the Pressure Off' aims to encourage residents, particularly those aged 40 and over, to regularly check their blood pressure and take necessary steps towards managing their health.

Dr Solomon Lebese, cardiovascular clinical champion at NHS Somerset, said: "High blood pressure doesn’t usually have obvious symptoms, making it a silent threat to many.

"Around one third of people with high blood pressure will be unaware that they have it.

"Through workplace testing, community events, blood pressure checks in pharmacies and the availability of free blood pressure monitors for loan at local libraries, we aim to make testing accessible to all and encourage a pro-active approach to health within our communities."

Professor Trudi Grant, executive director of public and population health in Somerset, said: "Addressing the silent issue of high blood pressure within our community is a critical aspect of improving population health.

"Often someone with high blood pressure will only find out when faced with a serious health event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

"This highlights the importance of prevention and the simple, yet lifesaving, step of regular blood pressure checks.

"It's a stark reality that 50 per cent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable through early diagnosis of high blood pressure.

"Taking only around one minute to do, this simple test can significantly alter the course of one's health and may even save your life.”