GP practices could speed up hypertension diagnosis by relying on just five days’ worth of self-testing data, a new study has claimed.
University of Oxford researchers compared results from using the shorter process to that recommended in national guidelines, finding that there was no difference in accuracy.
The current NICE guideline on home blood pressure testing to diagnose hypertension recommends twice daily readings over seven days, with day one excluded from the final average.
One GP practice taking part in the study said its diagnostic was speeded up ‘significantly’ as a result, cutting waiting times from around three weeks to one.
Published in the Journal of Hypertension, the study included 247 consecutive patients with elevated systolic BP (above 130mmHg) who underwent 28 days of self-monitoring, followed by 24-hour ABPM to provide the most accurate, reference readings. In all, 203 patients ended up with complete readings for analysis, and 109 of these were diagnosed with hypertension.
Taking the average of readings from days two to five correctly classified 152 out of the 203 participants, compared with 150 using the readings from days two to seven. Including the first day’s readings reduced this only very slightly by 0.5%, meaning 151 were correctly classified.
Dr Christine A’Court, clinical researcher at the University of Oxford and a GP in Oxfordshire, said: ‘We implemented it at our practice and as a result of it we were able to speed up the monitoring considerably. We reduced the time patients had to wait for a monitor from what was around two to four weeks, to one to two weeks.
‘Patients were able to pick up the manometer first thing on a Monday morning and return it on a Friday afternoon, so their whole monitoring was completed within a week and we could invite the next patient in for the following Monday.’