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Misdiagnosing hypertension, red meat balance and bee sting therapy

By Christian Duffin

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Tuesday 22 February.

Millions of patients have been ‘misdiagnosed’ with high blood pressure when in fact they only have waiting room nerves, or ‘white coat hypertension’, reports The Guardian and The Telegraph.

The papers say that NICE has prepared draft guidelines stipulating that if blood pressure measurements taken during a consultation are 140/90 mmHg or higher then extra confirmation should be obtained with either ambulatory blood pressure monitoring or home blood pressure monitoring.

NICE does say, however, that doctors should ensure they look at the lifetime possibility of heart attack or stroke when deciding to exclude a person from treatment.

The Guardian quotes Professor Bryan Williams, professor of medicine at the University of Leicester, who led the guideline team as saying: ‘As many as 25% of young people might record having high blood pressure when they go to the doctor when they actually don’t have it.’

Vegetarians won’t be impressed, but dieticians are warning that women of reproductive age could develop iron deficiencies if they are told to cut out red meat completely. The Daily Telegraph highlights a government-commissioned report due out this week that makes the recommendation.

The report does recommend, however, that Britons limit their consumption of red meat or processed meat to no more than 70g (2.5oz) a day, to cut their risk of bowel cancer.

Bee venom may be the key to stopping prostate cancer, the Daily Mail reports (NOTE: NOT ON THEIR WEBSITE). Scientists in South Korean found that prostate tumours stopped growing when tiny amounts of venom were injected into mice twice a week for four weeks. The chemical melittin, a constituent of the venom, may be the cause of the change. The newspaper says: ‘The findings lend support to anecdotal tales of cancer patients undergoing bee sting therapy to ease their condition.’

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

Daily digest