Healthcare: On the Agenda - Changes for blood pressure checks

In a nutshell

Patients who are thought to have high blood pressure (hypertension) should be diagnosed at home, according to new guidelines from the NHS watchdog. In one of the biggest changes to its previous guidance, published in 2006, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended that patients in England and Wales have the opportunity to have their blood pressure measured at home using a mobile device.

Why is it important?

Hypertension is one of the most preventable causes of premature ill health and death in the UK. It is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, chronic kidney disease and cognitive decline. Confirming blood pressure at home is argued to be a more accurate and faster way of confirming hypertension. The move could also save the NHS £10.5m a year, according to reports.

PR strategy

The PR for the story was handled in-house by the NICE media relations team. The media were invited to attend an embargoed press briefing at NICE on 23 August. The team set up a number of patient case studies that were subsequently filmed by ITV and BBC for their reports.

Media coverage

The new guidelines were reported widely across the broadcast, print and online media. In print, the story featured in most national papers including on the cover of The Daily Telegraph as well as in the The Times (p19), The Guardian (p8) and The Independent (p11). The story also featured on ITV Daybreak and across the BBC network.

5.7m - People have hypertension which is undiagnosed*

£1bn - Drug costs for treating hypertension in 2006.

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