FREE blood pressure testing will be available in York city centre this weekend in a bid to highlight one of the UK's silent killers.

One fifth of the adult population in the UK is estimated to have high blood pressure - an important cause of strokes, heart attacks, heart disease and other related diseases, which account for more than 40 per cent of deaths in Britain.

Tomorrow and on Saturday, Boots stores in Coney Street and Market Street, in conjunction with Omron Healthcare, will be providing free blood pressure testing and advice.

Qualified nurses will be on hand to take readings and offer advice to customers. Leaflets are also available with information regarding hypertension. For those who have their blood pressure readings taken, vouchers worth £10 will be available which can be redeemed against any Omron or Boots branded blood pressure monitors. Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine, and chairman of the Blood Pressure Association, said: "There is very strong evidence that if blood pressure is lowered the risk of developing a stroke, heart attack or heart failure is considerably reduced or removed and the damaging effects that blood pressure has on blood vessels can be halted or, in some cases, reversed.

"It is vital that everyone has his or her pressure measured to know whether it is raised or not."

Updated: 10:19 Thursday, March 20, 2003