Published On: 22 November 2022
Tracey Bignall

Tracey Bignall, Senior Policy & Practice Officer

Everyone wants to have a good and healthy life. We want to protect our heart from the risk of disease and long term health conditions. But we know that some people are at greater risk of certain conditions such high blood pressure which, if left unmanaged, increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. People from Black African and Black Caribbean communities unfortunately are more likely to develop high blood pressure but what is less known, is how the condition is understood and managed within these communities.

There are a number of reasons why high blood pressure is not addressed within Black African and Caribbean communities. These include a lack of knowledge, certain beliefs about the condition and symptoms, healthcare messaging seen as not ‘applicable to them’, and the belief that a diagnosis will mean a lifetime of medication, amongst other things. All of these and other factors can impact on help seeking behaviour to address the condition.

What we do know is that improved health messaging and better engagement can improve awareness of high blood pressure and how it can be managed. One example is our Community approaches to addressing high blood pressure in Black African and African Caribbean men project where we worked in community settings, such as barbershops, to carry out blood pressure testing and raise awareness of high blood pressure amongst Black African and Caribbean men. Alongside outreach engagement is the need to identify an individual’s risk of developing high blood pressure so they can take effective action if needed. The Heart Age Tool is online risk management programme where individuals can get a tailored report to make informed decisions about how to lower their blood pressure and improve their health.

We are very excited to be building on both of these programmes to deliver a new innovative project funded by the Burdett Trust.

We are working together with Smart Health Solutions, Younger Lives and Blood Pressure UK to address high blood pressure amongst Black African and Caribbean people using a shared decision-making tool. We will develop and pilot a nurse-led motivational change model for the management of high blood pressure that reaches and impacts people at greater risk of this condition. This project will involve:

  • blood pressure testing within the community;
  • the development of the Heart Age Tool specifically focused on Black African and Caribbean communities;
  • training healthcare professionals to deliver the programme; and
  • an evaluation of the programme.

Initially this project will be delivered through primary care practices in the South East London Integrated Care System.

We are excited to be working with our partners to deliver the project targeting Black Caribbean and African communities living in Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth. The project will run until 31 August 2023.

Please contact Tracey Bignall, Senior Policy and Practice Officer at the Race Equality Foundation via email: for further information.