Millions of Brits have no idea what their normal blood pressure should be

Millions of Brits have no idea what their normal blood pressure should be, or even how tall they are, a new study has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults also discovered more than half don’t know their blood type, and a further 40 per cent could only guess their weight.

Worryingly, 35 per cent of respondents say their lack of body knowledge ‘concerns’ them, but just one in four have any plans to do anything about it.

It also emerged the average adult doesn’t begin to take their health seriously until they hit 37, with one in 20 believing they can’t be unwell as long as they remain fit and active.

The study was conducted by Cardiomyopathy UK, whose chief executive Joel Rose said: “Knowing your own body is incredibly important.

“If you don’t keep in touch with what is normal for you, then you could end up missing early signs of a serious health problem like cardiomyopathy.

“We want people to listen to their body and abandon preconceptions and stereotypes of what a patient with a heart condition looks like.

“It’s so important to not fall into the trap of thinking that serious heart conditions like cardiomyopathy only affect older people with unhealthy lifestyles.

“This survey has highlighted how many people don’t know their family health history, ignore symptoms and just bury their head in the sand.

“With a condition like cardiomyopathy, this is a major problem we need to tackle.”

It also emerged six in 10 Brits could only estimate whether their current blood pressure is normal and healthy, and more than 70 per cent aren’t certain of their resting heart rate.

And 62 per cent haven’t got a clue what their BMI – or Body Mass Index – currently is, according to the research conducted through OnePoll.com.

Amazingly, only one in three women would be able to accurately date their last period – despite it being a monthly occurrence.

More than 15 per cent of respondents have also got no idea about their family’s medical history, which could contain clues about their own future wellbeing.

A further 13 per cent don’t know if they’ve been given the common MMR injection – normally given to children to ward off measles, mumps and rubella.

The study also found one in seven Brits admit to ‘burying their head in the sand’ when it comes to their health, and 30 per cent will ignore symptoms they don’t think are serious.

A quarter of adults also admit to occasionally feeling tired for no real reason, but haven’t explored the reasons why.

Heart issues can affect people of any age, and yet 23 per cent of adults believe someone with a heart problem is likely to be older, overweight and look unfit.

And six in 10 respondents believe those who are overweight are at more risk of suffering from a heart condition like cardiomyopathy than anyone else.

Cardiomyopathy UK’s President Perry Elliot said: “At Barts Hospital, we see over 8,000 people each year with cardiomyopathy and I’ve lost count of those that thought they were too young and healthy to have a heart condition.

“The reality, as this research shows, is people are not aware of the important signs their bodies are telling them which are putting them at risk.

“People of all shapes and sizes can be affected by cardiomyopathy and we need to challenge the stereotypes that exist in our society that older, overweight men are the typical heart patient.”

CASE STUDY

Doctor Chris Marshall, 44, from West Sussex, was a seemingly young, fit and healthy when a devastating diagnosis changed his life forever.

He would play sport ‘at any opportunity’ and cycled more than 20 miles a day, to and from his job as a consultant anesthetist at Worthing Hospital.

However, in May 2016, a blockage to Chris’s heart was discovered by chance.

While taking out the recycling, one rainy morning, the father-of-two slipped and fell down the side of some concrete steps.

He landed heavily on his side, breaking five ribs in the process and rupturing a disc.

When he lost all feeling in his left foot, he was booked in for emergency back surgery and given an ECG while waiting for the operation.

He said: “I remember saying to the doctors, ‘I don’t understand why you are doing an ECG on me, I’m fit and healthy.”

However, the ECG found a problem with Chris’s heart in the left ventricle, one of the muscular chambers that pumps oxygen-rich blood around the body.

He was later diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which had caused left bundle branch block (LBBB), and a year later, had a pacemaker fitted.

He said: “On reflection, I’d had some fairly significant symptoms over the past few years, including ‘heart rate dangerously high’ whenever I measured it on the running machine and cramp in my neck muscles whenever I sprinted.

“I’d get extreme shortness of breath and found cycling harder and harder, falling asleep straightaway as soon I got home from the hospital.

“I put it down to working too hard or needing to get fitter, so I went to the gym regularly, even though I’d get out of breath and drenched in sweat in no time.

“I didn’t feel anything was wrong with me and didn’t believe the signs and symptoms.

”So being a doctor, I naturally ignored them.”

Now Chris is joining a campaign by heart muscle charity Cardiomyopathy UK to show heart conditions are not always the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.

“As a doctor, I’ve seen lots of people with heart disease. Most are much older than me; many have smoked, had a poor diet and not exercised – but by no means all.”

And despite often being extremely tired and unable to do everything he wants to, Chris still ‘looks’ healthy.

“There have been many thoughtless comments with little comprehension of the emotional and physical impact this has had on me and my family,” he reveals.

“People make assumptions too – some who think I shouldn’t do anything and others not understanding why I’m not doing what I was trying to do before.

“So many people don’t understand what this diagnosis means. Many say things like, ‘Well you’re in your 40s now; Everyone’s tired aren’t they? or ‘But you’ll get better won’t you?’ etc .”

  • Mat is a writer with an interest in public opinion research. He has a passion for stories covering lifestyle, travel and technology.

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