Thousands more people could be eligible for blood pressure lowering medication under the latest NICE guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, published today (August 28).
The new recommendations reduce the CVD risk threshold at which treatment for hypertension should be considered. NICE says that treatment should now be offered to patients under the age of 80 years with a diagnosis of stage 1 hypertension who have an estimated 10-year CVD risk of 10 per cent or more. This is a reduction from the 20 per cent CVD risk treatment threshold in previous NICE guidelines.
The new guideline continues to use a blood pressure reading of 140/90mmHg and above as the level used to define hypertension.
High blood pressure affects around 13.5 million people and contributes to 75,000 deaths in England alone, making it the biggest preventable cause of death and disability through strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. Clinical management of hypertension accounts for 12 per cent of visits to primary care and up to £2.1bn of healthcare expenditure.
Over the last decade the average blood pressure in England has fallen by about 3 mmHg systolic and the proportion of adults with untreated high blood pressure has decreased, says NICE. However, Public Health England's Blood Pressure Action Plan has called for additional measures to reduce average blood pressure by a further 5 mmHg through improved prevention, detection and management.