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Blood Pressure Association welcomes radical changes in new NICE blood pressure guidelines that should provide a more accurate diagnosis for patients

The UK charity for people who have high blood pressure - The Blood Pressure Association (BPA) – has backed the new NICE guidelines that it says will provide more accurate diagnosis and improve patient care.

However, the BPA warns that some GP surgeries will need to invest in Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitors for patients to see the real benefits of the changes.

The BPA says the guidelines should mitigate against white coat effect and will ensure genuinely hypertensive patients receive the correct treatment. Patients over the age of 80 will also receive drug treatment for the first time.

The NICE Guideline Development Group (GDG) chaired by BPA Trustee, Professor Bryan Williams, has spent 18 months reviewing every aspect of blood pressure care, from initial diagnosis to its long term management in patients of different ages and races and with the condition at different stages.

High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for heart attack and stroke claiming thousands of lives each year. Unchecked, it can also result in kidney disease and dementia.

A worrying 5 million people in the UK don’t know they have high blood pressure and are at risk of death or serious disability.

In arguably the most radical changes to blood pressure care for many years, the GDG reviewed:

  • the accuracy of current diagnostic methods
  • the clinical effectiveness of the most widely used anti-hypertensive drugs alone and in combination therapies
  • the cost effectiveness of these therapies with respect to their ability to enhance a patient’s quality of life

Then the GDG made their recommendations to improve patient care.

The new guidelines recommend the use of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) to confirm a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring involves the patient being fitted with a non-invasive blood pressure monitoring device by their GP or practice nurse which takes repeated blood pressure readings over a 24 hour period. The patient is able to go about their daily life as normal, only returning to the surgery a day later to have the device removed and review the results with their GP.

This enables patients to receive a quicker diagnosis than is currently available and a more accurate one, which will reduce the possibility of people being diagnosed as hypertensive when they are not.

If ABPM is unsuitable for the patient, home monitoring is recommended (see notes to editors).

Other recommendations include the introduction of drug treatment for patients over the age of 80, safer and simplified drug regimens for all patients, new target blood pressures for drug treated patients and an increase in research into high blood pressure in people under the age of forty.

The recommendations in the updated guidelines are designed to put the welfare of patients first (see notes to editors for a link to the full guidelines).

Professor Williams says,

“This is great news for patients. This is the biggest change in the diagnosis of high blood pressure for more than a century. It is all about getting the diagnosis right and treating those who need treatment and not those who don’t. I am under no illusions about the challenges to implement this but I believe it is a step-change that is likely to be replicated across the world.”

Knowing your blood pressure is central to people understanding and tackling their blood pressure health.

The launch of the new guidelines coincides with the run up to this year’s Know your Numbers! Week.

Know your Numbers! Week is the BPA’s annual, nationwide blood pressure awareness campaign. From 12 – 18 September some 1,500 Pressure Stations will be offering free blood pressure checks in pharmacies, shopping centres, Occupational Health Departments, health clubs, and even on HMS Sultan, providing free checks for around 250,000 adults across the UK every year. Since its inception, Know your Numbers! Week has provided free blood pressure checks for some 1.5 million people.

Details of the locations of all the Know your Numbers Pressure Stations are available from August 24 on the Know your Numbers website at

Paul Newman, Chief Executive of the Blood Pressure Association, says,

“During this year’s campaign, we’re stressing the fact that ‘Ignorance isn’t always bliss’. High blood pressure is a dangerous condition when not managed and we hope everyone will take advantage of the free blood pressure checks to lower their risk of stroke and heart attack.”


Notes to Editors

·        For more information on Know your Numbers! Week, call 020 8772 4980/4997/4992

·        To contact the Blood Pressure Association Press Office, call Dr Claire McLoughlin on 020 8772 4992 or email or call Mark Hooley on 020 8772 4980/ 07872651860

·        Professor Bryan Williams is Professor of Medicine, University of Leicester and University Hospitals NHS Trust, Leicester, Guideline Development Group Chair and a trustee of the Blood Pressure Association.   mobile; 07747614288, office; 0116 258 3032

·        The Blood Pressure Association is the UK’s leading blood pressure charity working to lower the nation’s blood pressure. The charity provides information and support for people with high blood pressure and raises awareness to prevent the condition. For more information visit the charity’s main website or call 020 8772 4994.

·        The full updated guidelines can be downloaded from:

Topics: Policy and position, High Blood Pressure in the news, Medicines, Lifestyle, Measurement, High blood pressure

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