MORE than 25,000 lives are at risk in Southampton because of undiagnosed high blood pressure.

That is the stark warning from city health experts which is urging residents to undergo medical checks to ensure they are not at risk of premature death or disability.

Now they have launched a campaign across the city in a bid to slash the number of residents living with the time bomb of soaring blood pressure.

Figures released by the health authority have revealed 25,110 people in the city are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure - one of the causes of death, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and heart failure.

The figure is based on data from local GPs and NHS Health Survey for England.

The conditions rarely has noticeable symptoms but if untreated it could be fatal or cause serious health problems.

A city council scheme which sees free health checks offered by local pharmacies is now being piloted to help tackle the issue, with residents aged 40 and over urged to undergo the examinations.

City council health boss Dave Shields said: “We need to make prevention a priority.

“This involves working with our partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors to make services more accessible within the community.

“We value the vital role that community pharmacists play in delivering primary care services and prevention messages and I encourage those who are eligible and have yet to book their health check to make the most of this expertise.”

The check will last 20 minutes and experts will suggest the best treatment to tackle the condition.

Dr James Wilkinson, a consultant cardiologist at University Hospital Southampton, said: “With no questions if it’s untreated it can be fatal. If it’s not controlled you are definitively on a high risk of stroke. The first thing to do is measure blood pressure and diagnose it.”

Although causes of the conditions are not always clear, Dr Wilkinson believes that it is mainly due to lifestyle.

Smoking, disturbed sleep, too much salt in food, not enough exercise and obesity are some of the causes identified.

“There is evidence that losing weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce high pressure,” Dr Wilkinson said.

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK, said that blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death in the UK. She said: “Those from poorer backgrounds are worse off. Having your blood pressure checked is one of the biggest steps that you can take.”