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As many as 18 million people in the UK could live with high blood pressure, estimates suggest, and the condition gives them a higher risk of heart attack or stroke (stock image)

NHS guidelines will be amended to offer blood pressure-lowering drugs to hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.

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The threshold that a patient must reach before the life-saving medication is administered will be lowered and more than three times the number of people with the first stage of high blood pressure.

Healthcare watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), will today issue new guidelines to try to reduce the death rate from heart disease.

But despite the fact that they made drugs available for more than 700,000 additional patients, campaigners accused the guidelines of not going far enough, they & # 39; conservative & # 39; and & # 39; disappointing & # 39; to mention.

As many as 18 million people in the UK could live with high blood pressure, estimates suggest, and the condition gives them a higher risk of heart attack or stroke (stock image)

As many as 18 million people in the UK could live with high blood pressure, estimates suggest, and the condition gives them a higher risk of heart attack or stroke (stock image)

The NICE announcement is a confirmation of plans that were unveiled in March and made public prior to a final decision.

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It will advise NHS doctors to offer drugs to high blood pressure patients who have a 10 percent risk of developing heart disease within 10 years.

This is a relaxation of the previous risk threshold of 20 percent.

To be eligible for medication, a patient must also have a blood pressure measurement of at least 140/90 – a healthy range is between 90/60 and 120/80.

The pressure measurements measure millimeters of mercury (mmHg) when the heart pushes blood out (the first digit) and when it rests (the second digit).

NICE – which advises the NHS on the use of medicines – hopes that lowering the bar for medical help will reduce the number of people who die of heart attacks and strokes.

In 2015, high blood pressure contributed to around 75,000 deaths in the UK and was responsible for 12 per NHS visit and it cost £ 2.1 billion.

But critics said the NICE movement is too weak to help people with unhealthy blood pressure.

WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

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High blood pressure or hypertension rarely shows noticeable symptoms. But if not treated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realize it.

The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.

Blood pressure is recorded with two digits. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force with which your heart pumps blood through your body.

The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessels. They are both measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

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As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 mmHg or higher
  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg
  • low blood pressure is considered 90/60 mmHg or lower
  • A blood pressure measurement between 120/80 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg can mean that you run a risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take measures to control your blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is too high, this puts extra pressure on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.

Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • heart failure
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • aortic aneurysms & # 39; s
  • kidney disease
  • vascular dementia

Source: NHS

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK, said: “We don't feel the guidelines are getting close enough to address the huge numbers of people living with undetected or uncontrolled blood pressure.

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& # 39; We are disappointed that patients still have little control over their treatment.

& # 39; We also believe that more emphasis should be placed on blood pressure monitoring at home, based on the latest data. & # 39;

About 13 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, and the British Heart Foundation said another five million people have it but don't know it.

Left untreated, the condition can physically damage the arteries, heart and brain and lead to heart attacks, heart failure, dementia, kidney failure, or a stroke.

NICE estimated that the amended directive would lead to 450,000 more men and 270,000 more women getting the first phase of high blood pressure and being treated.

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This will be a huge leap from the approximately 290,000 that are already in that category.

People who use drugs to control the condition can use drugs called ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, or beta-blockers.

NICE spokesman Anthony Wierzbicki said in March: “Many people with high blood pressure actually don't know they have it, because it rarely causes noticeable symptoms.

& # 39; However, it is by far the largest preventable cause of death and disability in the UK due to strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.

& # 39; A rigorous evaluation of new evidence has led to updated recommendations on when to treat elevated blood pressure that may have the potential to make a real difference in the lives of many thousands of people with the condition. & # 39 ;

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, president of the British and Irish Hypertension Society, said the organization welcomed the new directive.

But he added the BIHS notes that few changes have been made to the 2011 version and finds the recommendations rather conservative compared to recent international guidelines in the US and Europe, which had assessed the same evidence. & # 39;

He said the new rules did not improve the care of high blood pressure patients who already had a heart condition, who make up about a third of the patient group.

& # 39; This is not just a missed opportunity to improve hypertension management in people at highest risk, & # 39; said Professor Cappuccio, & # 39; but a challenge for the implementation of the guideline in primary care. & # 39;

Philippa Hobson, senior heart nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: & # 39; The latest guidelines from NICE continue to show that the key lies in early diagnosis of high blood pressure and appropriate support, including medication for those most at risk.

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& # 39; The BHF is now testing new and innovative ways to enable people to have their blood pressure checked in local communities – including testing in pharmacies or even train stations.

"With a focus on prevention right at the heart of the long-term plan of the NHS, we hope that these guidelines will help the estimated 5 million people living in the UK with undiagnosed high blood pressure."

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