- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
A local AM has teamed up with the Stroke Association and Carmarthenshire Council to raise council cleansing staff awareness of the risk of stroke.
Stroke campaigner Joyce Watson AM and the Stroke Association visited the Cillefwr Depot, Johnstown, Carmarthen, to test the blood pressure of refuse workers and depot staff. Having high blood pressure makes people 40% more likely to have a stroke.
The results were startling – of the 47 people tested, sixty per cent were either borderline or in the high blood pressure category, increasing their risk of stroke. It was suggested to many that a reduction in their blood pressure reading would significantly improve their health and reduce their risk of stroke.
Of 47 blood pressures taken 19 were normal, 20 were borderline and 8 were high, therefore 60% of the readings were borderline to high.
Joyce Watson AM said:
“These results are a real wake-up call, but the great news is that everyone we tested can do something about it.
“Stroke is the UK’s third biggest killer and nearly a quarter of the population are thought to be suffering from undiagnosed high blood pressure – the single biggest risk factor for stroke. Over 500 people a year attend hospital with a stroke in Carmarthenshire.
“The last time we did this testing, over a third of those tested either had high blood pressure or borderline ratings – this time sixty per cent of these workers need to take these results seriously. They should not be alarmed, but until today they were walking around unaware that they are at a higher risk of stroke.
“I’m glad we offered this testing to the council’s refuse workers as well as other staff. It is often the case that men are less willing to go to their GP to report illness, so I hope where we have identified potential risk they can now act on it in time. There are simple actions which can minimise the risk of stroke, once that risk is known.
“I will be briefing the Health Minister on these findings, and I will continue to push for further workplace screening as an effective way of tackling this devastating illness.”
Cllr Pat Jones, Carmarthenshire Council Executive Board Member for Health and Social Care, said: “An organisation as large and diverse as a local authority relies on a strong and healthy workforce to keep things ticking. As we all know, prevention is better than cure, and anything we can do to help the council’s staff keep healthy and fit for work is well worth it.”
Cleansing operative Ifan James from Carmarthen said: “I think it is a good idea to have your blood pressure tested at work. I had a minor heart attack last June so I know how important it is to get regularly checked out.”
Lowri Griffiths, Head of Communication and External Affairs in Wales for The Stroke Association said: “We are incredibly grateful to the staff at the depot for taking part in our testing day. I hope we were able to raise awareness with those who came forward for testing and demonstrate that stroke is not something that happens just to older people; it can strike at any age and there are steps that can be taken to reduce risk. Lowering blood pressure is the single most important factor in reducing the chances of having a stroke.
“ I would like to re-emphasise the importance of taking action to reduce those borderline or high blood pressure readings, either through lifestyle choices or in the case of the higher readings, making an appointment to see their practice nurse or GP.”
Two years ago Joyce Watson AM teamed up with the Stroke Association and Community Pharmacy Wales to test the blood pressure of over 1,000 people across mid and west Wales, including Carmarthenshire Council’s main office and at the Carmarthen Journal offices.