Smokers with high blood pressure are less likely to have their condition diagnosed and treated than their non-smoking counterparts. Yet smoking and high blood pressure both increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and when put together dramatically increase the risk of death or disability from these problems.

A study published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation looked at the blood pressures of more than 20,000 UK smokers and non-smokers. The researchers asked the participants if they had been previously told that they had high blood pressure and then measured their blood pressures.

The authors found that only half (51.3%) of the smokers who had high blood pressure had previously been told that they had it. This means that almost half of all smokers with high blood pressure (49.7%) were not receiving the treatment they needed to lower their blood pressure and risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

The researchers suggest that this might be due to the fact that smoking helps people to be thinner than their non-smoking counterparts. GPs may be more likely to test the blood pressures of overweight people since this naturally makes someone more likely to have high blood pressure.

The results of the study suggest that all people who smoke should have their blood pressures regularly tested to make sure that they receive the treatment they need. Established medical knowledge also recommends that anyone who does smoke and finds that they have high blood pressure should try to quit as soon as possible to rapidly lower their risk of stroke or heart disease.