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Opportunities for action around hypertension highlighted with new resource

A new blood pressure resource for primary care practitioners and local authorities has been developed.

The resource, entitled ‘Blood Pressure – How Can We Do Better?‘ highlights the national picture around high blood pressure and also breaks down the data into tailored packs for every CCG, highlighting local opportunities for improvement

It was developed by a group of GPs, nurses and pharmacists from the Primary Care CVD Leadership Forum, working in partnership with Public Health England, the British Heart Foundation, NHS England, the Stroke Association, Blood Pressure UK, the British Hypertension Society and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The individual packs contain infographics that show how the CCG and local practices are performing in detection and management of high blood pressure, and contain practical key messages written by primary care clinicians on potential ways to improve care and outcomes for patients.

The potential benefits of targeting high blood pressure in local areas are huge – for every 10mmHg reduction in blood pressure, the risk of a life changing heart attack or stroke is reduced by 20%. However the current situation shows that more than 5.5 million people in England are not aware they have hypertension. Out of those who do know, one in three people’s blood pressure levels are not controlled in line with NICE recommendations.

New estimates of hypertension for CCGs and practices have been released by Public Health England’s National Cardiovascular Intelligence Network (NCVIN) using a model of undiagnosed hypertension recently completed by Imperial College London. The figures suggest the number of people who had high blood pressure in 2015, and the number of people who were diagnosed. It finds that an estimated 13.4 million people have either GP recorded or undiagnosed hypertension, equal to approximately 24% of the population.

Dr Matt Kearney, National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention for NHS England and National Clinical Advisor for Public Health England, said: “This new resource, written by clinicians for clinicians, can help hard-pressed GPs work in new ways to improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with high blood pressure. By making better use of community pharmacists, encouraging more self-measurement of blood pressure, and auditing data more systematically  so we can spot cases of hypertension that are missing or under-treated quicker.”

Catherine Kelly, Director of Prevention, Survival and Support for the British Heart Foundation, said: “Once diagnosed, people can take action to lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease, the UK’s single biggest killer. Not only does this have vast patient benefits but the cost saving to the health service could be significant, with the condition costing the NHS an estimated £2 billion.”

The resources will help healthcare practitioners make the case for early detection and preventative interventions that tackle hypertension, and illustrate how the burden of cardiovascular disease on general practice can be minimised by looking first at primary prevention.

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