For the first time in a century, new guidelines outlining how to diagnose and treat blood pressure has been issued by NICE.
The document, developed in corporation with the British Hypertension Society (BHS), features the major recommendation that blood pressure should be monitored over the course of 24 hours using ambulatory methods, which confirms draft guidelines published in February.
Professor Bryan Williams, from the University of Leicester, chaired the guidelines and estimates that up to 25% of people diagnosed with high blood pressure using the current method of attending routine check-ups with a GP, may not be hypertensive and may not require treatment.
Professor Williams commented: “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.
“It means that we will be more accurate in treating those who need treatment and in avoiding treating those who don’t”.
The new devices cost a heft £1,000-£2,000, but the guidelines note that “by improving the speed and accuracy of diagnosis, we will actually save money by only targeting treatment at those who need and will benefit from treatment”, stated Professor Williams.
“I am under no illusions about the challenges to implement this but I believe this guideline will be well received by both doctors and patients not just in England and Wales, but worldwide”.
As well as claiming that the new approach is highly cost-effective, the guidelines also simplify the treatment strategy for high blood pressure, giving focus to the most effective treatments. The document also contains specific advice on the treatment of blood pressure in young adults and the very elderly.
The official guidelines can be read here.