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NICE recommends 24 Hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

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More than a quarter of patients may have been misdiagnosed for high blood pressure, a finding that will see the way doctors identify hypertension changed for the first time in more than a century.

Guidelines published on Wednesday by NICE recommend that patients should be monitored for 24 hours to determine whether they have high blood pressure rather than having a measurement taken in a doctor's surgery.

The 24-hour process, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), involves wearing a cuff and a box on a belt for a day. The patient then brings it back the following day for the recording to be downloaded on to a computer and an automatic report generated.

Bryan Williams, Professor of Medicine at the University of Leicester, who chaired the NICE hypertension guideline committee, said that 10% of the NHS could introduce "this tomorrow … Our modelling showed that for every 100,000 people this new method would cost £2.5m in the first year. But by year five you would see savings of £10m a year."

The guideline panel expect that the new process will take about a year to introduce and that the cost of the machines, currently around £1,000 each, could halve.

In the UK 12 million people have high blood pressure and almost half are undiagnosed. It is estimated that the condition costs the NHS £1bn a year in drugs alone.

Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "The number of people with high blood pressure in the UK is staggering. It's a major risk factor for heart disease and strokes so it's crucial we do all we can to get people diagnosed and properly treated as soon as possible."

Prevention is certainly better than cure. If the figures add up this could be a way of improving the Nation's health in the future and saving costs long term.

Patricia Wakeford

Solicitor  - Clinical Negligence Team


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