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UK blood pressure diagnosis and treatment to change

Wednesday 24th August 2011
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The way blood pressure is diagnosed and treated is to be revolutionised due to new guidelines for the medical profession issued by NICE.

These guidelines, developed in conjunction with the British Hypertension Society, will mark the first time a change has been made in the way blood pressure is monitored by GPs in over a century.

One key aspect of the new instructions is the recommendation that high blood pressure should be diagnosed using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.

This involves the patient wearing a monitor for 24 hours to gauge their level of blood pressure.

They are also simplify the treatment strategy for high blood pressure, focusing on the most effective treatments, offering specific guidance for how to combat the condition in people of different ages.

University of Leicester Professor Bryan Williams, chair of the NICE hypertension guideline, believes the new approach could mean that some 25 per cent of people currently being diagnosed as hypertensive in the doctor's clinic may not need treatment.

"This new guideline is going to change the way blood pressure is diagnosed and treated for millions of people in the UK and around the world. The new approach will be more accurate in diagnosing high blood pressure and will ensure that the right people get treated," he said.

He explained that the board spent over a year considering new evidence before coming to this conclusion.

High blood pressure is very common in the UK, noted the expert, affecting more than half of adults over the age of 60.

Treating high blood pressure is also one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, so decreasing this would cut the time and money spent on more serious conditions.

Accompanying research published in the Lancet revealed that this new approach to treating hypertension is extremely cost-effective and likely to save money for the NHS, despite the implementation of new technology.

Written by Mathew Horton
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