THOUSANDS of people in East Lancashire don’t know they have high blood pressure, new figures show.

Data from Public Health England shows that while 74,800 people have been diagnosed with hypertension, there are many people living with it undiagnosed.

The figures for 2015-16 show that 139,000 residents in East Lancashire are estimated to have high blood pressure, which means that 64,200 (45 per cent) people are undiagnosed with the potentially fatal condition that can cause strokes and heart attacks.

For people diagnosed with high blood pressure, Blackburn with Darwen is the borough with the highest number, with a staggering 20,000 people living with it.

Pendle is second with 13,300, followed by Burnley with 12,900, Hyndburn with 10,600, Rossendale with 9,800 - and Ribble Valley has the lowest number - with 8,200 people diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The figures have prompted charity Blood Pressure UK to launch a ‘Know Your Numbers ‘campaign, which takes place in Lancashire between September 18 and September 24.

The charity have called on people to check their blood pressure and blood pressure testing stations will be set up throughout the area for people to go along free of charge to find out their blood pressure.

Dr Tom Smith, the Lancashire’s Telegraph’s health expert, said he was ‘not surprised’ by the figures which he put down to people not having regular blood pressure checks.

Dr Smith said: “The problem is that for a lot of people there are no symptoms to high blood pressure. This means that they will live their lives not knowing they’ve got it and therefore won’t go to the doctors to get it checked.

“Lifestyle can also have an effect, such as not exercising enough and drinking too much, smoking and a bad diet.

Health bosses said that schemes are in place across East Lancashire to improve detection and treatment of hypertension.

They said that people can have free checks in most pharmacies and all GP practices.

Professor Umesh Chauhan, Pendle GP and lead GP for improving hypertension, at NHS East Lancashire CCG said: “Blood pressure checks are the best way to see if you have high blood pressure, and we welcome any initiative that promotes this.”

Dr Malcolm Ridgeway, clinical director for quality, at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG said: “We encourage patients, particularly those over the age of 35, to ensure they have had their blood pressure checked at least every five years or sooner if you are worried, either at their local pharmacy or their GP practice.”

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said that free blood pressure and additional health checks will be available at its health fayre and AGM on September 20 at Blackburn Cathedral between 1.30pm and 4.30pm.