High blood pressure: are cases incorrectly diagnosed?

1st April 2013

Hypertension guidelines are now to be changed after research [I] reveals ‘White Coat Syndrome’ is a bigger problem than initially thought.

The syndrome in which patients’ blood pressure rises when visiting a doctor’s surgery has drastically affected diagnoses and is reported to occur in up to 30 per cent of diagnosed patients who actually had blood pressure within the normal range when measured over 24-hours.

New NICE guidelines released this month recommend the measurement of blood pressure at home with the aim of decreasing incorrect diagnoses and mis-prescribing of expensive blood pressure drugs.  The preferred route would be to use an Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor which is worn for a 24-hour period and measures the blood pressure at regular intervals.

Welch Allyn, who have been supplying Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitors for over 10 years, hope the new guidelines will prompt patients to ask their GP for ambulatory monitoring at home to ensure a more accurate reading.

Jan McMeekin, Marketing Manager of Welch Allyn UK Ltd, said: “With Welch Allyn’s commitment to provide devices which improve diagnosis of hypertension, patients are unlikely to be misdiagnosed and money can be saved on drugs bills for practices across the country, in yet another step toward efficiency.”

With a simple one - button operating system, which is intentionally quiet and unobtrusive (so as not to interfere with the patient’s day to day activities), the Welch Allyn APBM 6100S also comes with a range of cuff sizes, to help make readings even more accurate.

The 6100S from Welch Allyn is an easy- to-use ABPM that combines simple one-button operation with powerful software to provide a more efficient way to analyse blood pressure readings and diagnose potential patient complications. The unit meets or exceeds the latest

BHS, EHS and AAMI standards. Patient compliance is probably one of the most common failures of an ABPM test. Although the test is all about having a relaxed patient when the pressure is taken, it is still important that the unit is as quiet and unobtrusive as possible, if the patient is to get through a full 24 hours. The 6100S is lightweight, compact and one of the quietest units available. Compliance is also improved by the use of dynamic inflation with adjustable maximum limits and pressures, which increases patient comfort. The 6100S is fully programmable to cope with different situations and patient lifestyles. However, many patients will be able to use the same settings and the 6100S allows unlimited protocols to be saved to make programming quick and easy. To help make the patient setup quicker, the unit can be pre-programmed before the patient arrives. Studies demonstrate that the use of an incorrect cuff can make a difference of up to 30mmhg in the readings2 – a significant error, so it is important that the unit can support a range of cuff sizes. The 6100S offers four different sizes which are designed with a unique inside sleeve to improve comfort and keep the cuff in place for the duration of the test.

References: 1. Clinical features of 8295 patients with resistant hypertension classified on the basis of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring: Authors: de la Sierra A; Segura J; Banegas JR; Gorostidi M; de la Cruz JJ; Armario P; Oliveras A; Ruilope LM

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