A free health clinic offering blood pressure checks to the public has revealed 1 in 3 Sunderland residents were advised to seek medical attention, due to risk of stroke.

The drop-in was hosted at the Vision Express Sunderland store as part of an award-winning initiative between Vision Express and the Stroke Association, which aims to raise awareness of the risks linked to high blood pressure.

Over half of all strokes can be caused by high blood pressure, and it is estimated that over five million people across the UK don’t realise they have the condition.

Helen Boodhun, volunteer and ambassador for the Stroke Association, said: “High blood pressure often has no symptoms, which is why it’s known as a ‘silent killer.’ Events such as the health clinic at Vision Express are so important. It’s such a simple way to reduce your stroke risk and the test takes only a few minutes. Even if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it can be easily treated – it’s much better to know and have peace of mind.”

Stroke Association volunteer and ambassador Trudy Chapman said: “It’s great that Vision Express offers the Stroke Association a convenient location, in their stores, for customers to get their blood pressure checked. I had a stroke in 2014 and from the support of the Stroke Association, I realised my life wasn’t over. I joined a communications group and later started the first Stroke Association group in Sunderland, to help as many stroke survivors as possible.”

Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO, said: “A blood pressure check is quick and painless, but it could be a life-saver. Stroke is much more common than many people realise: across the UK; someone has a stroke every five minutes, but by holding events like these, we’re hoping to change this. We’re delighted that so many people came along to talk to us about reducing their risk of having a stroke.”

Vision Express has forged a partnership with the Stroke Association to raise customers’ awareness about stroke and its impact on sight. Stroke is a leading cause of disability, and up to 60% of people that have had a stroke will experience visual problems immediately after.