Lancashire’s specialist stop smoking service, Quit Squad, is encouraging smokers across the county to know their numbers and begin their journey to a smoke free life.

Know Your Numbers Week running from 4-10 September is the UK's biggest blood pressure testing and awareness event. The primary aim of the week is to reach those who have high blood pressure and don’t know it, so they can get the treatment and support they need to bring it under control.

When blood pressure is measured two numbers are given, a top number and a bottom number. The first number or the top number is your systolic blood pressure, this is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats forcing blood around your body. Your diastolic blood pressure is the bottom or the second number and this is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats. Once you know your numbers, you can use a blood pressure chart to see what they mean and if your blood pressure is in the healthy range.

Alex Kennedy, Quit Squad Manager explains:

“Each cigarette you smoke causes a temporary rise in blood pressure. Smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis, where fat is laid down in your arteries walls, making the arteries narrower. It also makes your blood more likely to clot and forces your heart to work harder. These changes can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

High blood pressure also causes narrowing of the arteries. So if you have high blood pressure and you smoke, the process happens much faster, dramatically raising your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Becoming smoke free can dramatically improve your overall health and reduce your risk of suffering with high blood pressure and the associated health risks.”

Throughout Know Your Numbers Week, the HARRI bus will be based at locations throughout Lancashire offering free blood pressure checks. HARRI is a health and wellbeing engagement vehicle able to travel and talk with local communities and individuals offering a variety of information on many health issues. 

Hasan Sidat, Operational Manager, comments:

“You may not be aware of your current blood pressure so it is always advisable to get this checked especially if you are a smoker. On the 8 September we will be based on Booth’s carpark in Carnforth and 9 September at the flag market in Preston. We will be offering free blood pressure checks from 10am – 3pm on both days so please come and pay us a visit. We can offer advice and guidance on a variety of subjects and help you know your numbers.”

Alex continues:

“If you want to stop smoking, our specially trained NHS advisors are friendly, approachable and we can support you to take the first step. Getting support from Quit Squad, run in partnership with Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust and Lancashire County Council, really boosts your chances of quitting – you are up to three times as likely to succeed.”

In January, Angeline Gregory from Lancashire, contacted Quit Squad after smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day and with Quit Squad’s help she is now feeling the benefits of her smoke free life.

Angeline explains:

“I started smoking when I was 15, but during the winter I decided due to health reasons that now was the time for me to quit smoking. I didn’t want to keep having to smoke in secret away from my grandchildren and I knew it would improve my overall health.

I contacted Quit Squad after seeing their details in my GPs and I’ve not looked back since. With the help of nicotine patches, my group support sessions and the encouragement from Quit Squad I’m proudly now smoke free.

If anyone is considering stopping smoking I urge you to contact Quit Squad, as they will help you on your journey, and remember don’t rush the process and if you have a small blip just get straight back to it.”

Regardless of how long you’ve smoked for, quitting smoking brings some almost instant benefits. After just 20 minutes of stopping smoking pulse rates will begin to return to normal and after 8 hours oxygen levels begin to recover and the harmful carbon monoxide in the body has halved. By 48 hours the body is carbon monoxide free and the lungs are beginning to clear our mucus and senses of taste and smell improve. 

If you would like to quit, make today the day by calling 0800 328 6297 or visit our website, where you will find details of local sessions and support including the free to download My Quite Route app.  You can also follow Quit Squad on social media @LancsQuitSquad.