THREE times as many adults should be given pills after an early diagnosis of high blood pressure, claims an NHS watchdog.
It wants to lower the eligibility threshold in a bid to prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes.
Getty – Contributor The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence wants to lower the eligibility threshold so those with stage 1 high blood pressure can get drugs
New draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends one million adults with stage 1 symptoms now get drugs.
It compares with around 290,000 who currently should receive treatment.
High blood pressure is the biggest single trigger of heart disease and stroke.
It is known as the silent killer, because the symptoms often go unnoticed until it is too late.
Under NHS rules, it is a reading over 140/90mmHg – meaning around 12 million people are eligible for treatment.
But the changes will see everyone with stage 1 high blood pressure get pills if they have a 10 per cent risk of developing heart disease within a decade.
It is down from 20 per cent risk of heart problems, and will see up to 720,000 extra people offered drugs.
MILLIONS COULD BENEFIT
Consultant Anthony Wierzbicki, chair of the guideline committee, said the new rules could help “thousands of lives”.
He said: “Many people with high blood pressure don’t actually know they have it because it rarely causes any noticeable symptoms.
“However, it is by far the biggest preventable cause of death and disability in the UK through strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.
“The guideline effectively shifts the focus to earlier intervention with lifestyle or drug treatment.”
Many Brits are unaware they have high blood pressure.
Heart expert Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Trustees at Blood Pressure UK, said only seven million patients currently receive treatment for the killer condition.
He said: “My own view is that it is up to the individual. But there are hidden millions who would benefit from treatment, but are unaware of their risk.”
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Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, warned against over-medicalising millions of Brits.
She said: “Lowering the threshold for making a diagnosis of hypertension, or high blood pressure – a condition that already affects a very large number of patients in the UK – is likely to affect thousands, if not millions of patients, so this decision must not be taken lightly and must be evidence-based.
Many GPs do also have concerns about overdiagnosis and the unintended harms of prescribing medication to groups of patients when the benefits may be limited.”
Miracle drug that may limit heart attack damage has been discovered
A DRUG which may limit heart attack damage has been discovered by scientists.
Researchers grew heart muscle tissue in a lab using stem cells and then replicated a “heart attack in a dish”.
They then targeted a protein with a drug and found they could block chemical signals which lead to cell death and heart damage.
Lead researcher Professor Michael Schneider, from Imperial College London, said developing a drug to reduce the impact of heart attacks would be a “revolution” in care.
Getty – Contributor High blood pressure is known as the silent killer, because the symptoms often go unnoticed until it is too late
High blood pressure ‘hypertension’ raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes