Call for home blood pressure tests to curb misdiagnosis

  • 22 February 2011
  • From the section Health
Blood pressure monitor
Image caption High blood pressure is a blood pressure that is 140/90 mmHg or above

Patients suspected of having high blood pressure will get another check at home because of fears that nerves from being at a GP surgery may be leading to too many people being diagnosed.

So-called white coat hypertension is thought to affect a quarter of people, the NHS advisory body NICE said.

It is proposing that patients with high readings in a clinic are then monitored at home to ensure a correct diagnosis.

The guidance for England and Wales will now be consulted on.

Final recommendations are not expected until the summer, but already health experts have welcomed the move.


Professor Gareth Beevers, from the Blood Pressure Association, said: "This should aid correct diagnosis. The association has recommended patients take their blood pressure at home for a number of years now, though it's essential that the blood pressure monitor has been clinically validated."

More than 8m people are registered as having high blood pressure, which could mean as many as 2m people have been misdiagnosed because of nerves.

Misdiagnosis can lead to patients being put on drugs - and therefore suffering side effects - unnecessarily.

The solution being put forward by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence involves ensuring patients who have had a high blood pressure reading at their GPs get checked at home.

The body said this could either be done with an inflatable arm cuff that takes regular readings over 24 hours or getting a health professional to visit someone in their own home to take another reading manually.

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