A TOP heart specialist is warning people of the “silent killer” that can destroy lives.

Professor Douglas Chamberlain is today supporting moves to raise awareness of blood pressure and its potentially deadly effects.

Prof Chamberlain was a world-class heart and senior consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton for many years.

He paved the way for the city’s specialist heart ambulances and the widespread use of heart defibrillators.

He was the most influential figure in the introduction and development of paramedics in the country.

Prof Chamberlain, now retired, is widely respected throughout the medical fraternity in the UK and abroad.

He is now adding his expertise to an awareness event being run by his fellow members of the Rotary Club of Hove alongside the Stroke Association.

It is taking place today ahead of the association’s annual Know Your Blood Pressure Day tomorrow.

High blood pressure puts a strain on blood vessels all over the body, including vital arteries to the brain, and the heart has to work much harder to keep the blood circulation going.

This strain can cause vessels to become clogged up or to weaken, and this in turn can lead to narrow blood vessels and blood clots.

Prof Chamberlain, from Hove, said: “High blood pressure can lead to serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

“The most dangerous thing about it is there are no symptoms, so people will not realise they have it unless they are tested or something happens to them. It can be a silent killer.

“This is why screening is so important so people are aware and can do something about it.”

Prof Chamberlain said the causes of high blood pressure, or hypertension, are usually unknown but there are some factors and lifestyle changes people can make to reduce the risk.

This includes cutting back on alcohol and salt, losing weight and exercising more.

Medication can also bring the pressure down, rapidly reducing the risk of a stroke by 30% to 40%.

A team of professionals will be at the new Waitrose store in Nevill Road, Hove, from 10am to 5pm and Prof Chamberlain will be there for two hours from 10am.

He said: “Most people will probably be fine but if indications show a raised level of blood pressure we can advise them on what they need to do next.

“Sometimes the stress of just having a test done can raise pressure but GPs can arrange for people to use a monitor for 24 hours to get the most accurate reading.”