Blood Pressure Guidelines For UK To Include Home Checks

New blood pressure guidelines for England and Wales recommend that patients be monitored for 24 hours to avoid misdiagnosis of high blood pressure due to anxiety in the surgery.

About a quarter of people become anxious while they have their blood pressure taken in the surgery, meaning they potentially give an inaccurate reading, reports The Telegraph.

This wrongly pushes many into the high blood pressure zone, a phenomenon known as white coat hypertension.

This means up to three million people could be taking drugs needlessly or in incorrect doses.

Now the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has produced definitive guidelines so doctors can diagnose the condition more accurately.

They recommend that when a patient is deemed hypertensive in the surgery, they are sent home with an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) device, The Telegraph reports.

The machine comprises an arm cuff and a small belt-clip monitor box containing a timer, compressor and computer chip, which can be worn during everyday activities.

Patients wear them for 24 hours and readings are automatically taken every half an hour during waking hours. The information is then downloaded on to the surgery computer.

Bryan Williams is a professor of medicine at Leicester University, who chaired the guidelines panel.

He said studies show this method gives far more accurate readings than in the potentially stressful surgery setting, reports The Telegraph. Williams said ABPM monitoring would help screen out those with white coat hypertension. It would also provide more accurate readings for those who really had high blood pressure, resulting in better treatment, he said. High blood pressure, which leads to heart disease and stroke, is one of the UK’s most widespread health problems, BBC reports. Some 12 million people are officially diagnosed - although a quarter arguably wrongly - while up to six million more could have it without their knowledge. Nice has decided to recommend nationwide (England and Wales) use of the ABPM monitors, which currently cost about £1,000 (about $1,637) each. Their decision was prompted by a financial analysis, which showed they would save money in the long term, reports The Telegraph. The National Health Service (NHS) will have to spend about £5 million (about $8 million) a year to invest in the machines. However, Nice is confident that they will begin to save money after two years. They say this will be due to less prescriptions for ACE inhibitors, calcium-channel blockers and diuretics, which all lower blood pressure. These drugs currently cost the NHS £1 billion (approx. $1.63 billion) a year, or one per cent of its budget, The Telegraph reports.
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