Each year Rotary clubs across the UK work in partnership with the Stroke Association and hold “Know Your Blood Pressure” events. This initiative has been running since 2004 and in 2016 over 30 Rotary clubs took part. Rotary International Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) won a Life After Stroke Award in 2014 in recognition of this contribution.
In Oxford, the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires supports the Rotary Club of Oxford Isis, manning a stand in Cowley shopping centre, encouraging people to think about their blood pressure, have it checked, and speak to a medical professional about their health. Oxford Isis normally cover the start and end of the day, while Oxford Spires normally covers 11am to 1pm. Since we don’t have any medical professionals in our club, we call in different friends each year to help out.
Why do we do this?
High blood pressure is a contributing factor in around half of strokes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Rotary, both in partnership with Stroke Association local teams and independently, took over 23,000 blood pressures in 2016. Over 6,000 of those tested were advised to make an appointment with their GP to discuss their reading. For every 10 people diagnosed with high blood pressure, seven remain undiagnosed and untreated – this is more than 5.5 million people in England alone.
The 2018 event
This year we were lucky to be supported by two students for the Oxford Spires shift of 11am to 1pm. Georgia is a Pharmacist from Australia, currently studying for a PhD in Public Health at Oxford University. Georgia is partly funded by Rotary in Australia and so she is one of our 23 Rotary Scholars studying across our Rotary District, mostly in Oxford, for this academic year. Victoria is a doctor, also from Australia and a graduate student at Oxford University and a friend of another of our Rotary Scholars. Over the day 146 people visited the Rotary tent to have their blood pressure measured. The Rotarians greeted people, helped them fill in a brief form about the risk factors of a stroke and then Victoria and Georgia took their blood pressure. They explained the readings and advised whether they need to see their GP in one week, one month or if they were within the healthy range there was nothing to worry about. Very few people were advised to visit their GP.
In 2016 Richie created a video to show others what we had done. He did the voice over too!
In 2015 we were there….