The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has advised that high blood pressure should be monitored at home to yield more accurate results.
Under the new guidelines, which only affect England and Wales, patients will be able to use a mobile device which is able to take regular blood pressure readings over a 24 hour period. This is known as “ambulatory” monitoring. It is expected that it will reduce the number of patients being misdiagnosed, as well as saving the National Health Service as much as £10.5 million a year, according to predictions.
Research has shown that, in many cases, the stress of visiting the doctor can affect the blood pressure reading, which is known as white coat hypertension. In these cases, the patient is often misdiagnosed and prescribed medications that are not necessary. White coat hypertension is said to affect as many as 25% of patients. Ambulatory monitoring is unaffected by this problem as it measures over 24 hours.
Professor Bryan Williams, who is the chairman of the Guideline Development Group at NICE, described the plans to the BBC as a “win-win situation for patients...and the NHS actually saves money.” The president of the British Hypertension Society agreed, saying that 24 hour monitoring of blood pressure was a “much more precise” method of diagnosis.
High blood pressure affects a very large number of adults across the United Kingdom, with many being unaware that they have the condition. Though it is not a disease in itself, it is known to increase the likelihood of a patient developing heart disease.