Free health checks will be on offer in Whitehaven this week as part of a bid to prevent strokes.

The Copeland Community Stroke Prevention Project will hold an event in St Nicholas' Gardens on Friday, June 14.

The project is run by Rotary, the West Cumbrians’ Voice for Healthcare, the Stroke Association, NWAS, Healthwatch Cumbria, Public Health, pharmacies and the local NHS.

The group will offer blood pressure and pulse rate tests to look for atrial fibrillation at the Whitehaven Traders Day.

High blood pressure and atrial fibrillation are known to significantly increase the chances of having a stroke, but can be treated relatively easily.

Rotarian Kevin Walsh has helped organise the event.

He said: “Health and wellbeing is a key area of focus for Rotarians around the world.

"Being active in our communities is important to us and we are pleased to be hosting the event and sharing our experience from other parts of Cumbria.”

There will also be advice on the things people can do to improve their health, such as healthy eating, taking more exercise and stopping smoking, which are key to reducing the chance of having a stroke.

Jon Ward, from the West Cumbrians’ Voice for Healthcare, said: “Knowing that up to 85 per cent of strokes could possibly be avoided, we campaigned for a stroke prevention programme in West Cumbria and Copeland in particular.

"This brought together a partnership that is providing simple tests for stroke risk factors that can be treated.

"Three pharmacies in the area are offering free drop-in testing and on Friday we have the first stand hosted at an event happening this summer."

Cumbria Community Pharmacy is offering testing at three pharmacies in Copeland which started in the spring.

They have tested 34 people, 14 people then followed up with home monitoring using a portable blood pressure testing device.

One person was referred urgently for more tests and four others have taken the home monitoring data to be followed up for an informed discussion with their GP.

Lynn McFarlane from Community Pharmacy Cumbria said: “Pharmacies are at the heart of their community and being able to offer this testing to people who may be worried and keen to check their blood pressure close to home is really important.

“We offer anyone who hasn’t been previously diagnosed with high blood pressure, the chance to monitor at home so when they return we have a detailed picture and can recommend any next steps if they are needed.”

The pharmacies taking part are Mirehouse Pharmacy, Seacliffe Pharmacy in Kells, and Seascale Pharmacy.

NHS North Cumbria CCG is also working with NHS England to support a project to identify people who may be known to have risk factors but aren’t being actively treated.

The programme will use clinical pharmacists to review GP patient records and identify people who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation but are not receiving anticoagulation therapy and review their cases in a virtual clinic with GPs to develop a treatment plan.