New approach to identify hypertension

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has successfully piloted an initiative in Greater Manchester to help identify previously unknown cases of hypertension and is now working to scale this up to be rolled out region-wide.

Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a main factor causing heart attacks and strokes. Over one third of adults in England have high blood pressure, but three in 10 of those don’t know they have it. Being aware of having high blood pressure is a first step to prevent heart attacks and strokes as this can be lowered to healthy levels and therefore reduce the risk.

Using secure email data transfer of electronic patient records, the initial pilot involved analysing data of NWAS patients who had a high blood pressure reading during clinical observations on scene. Where the patient was cared for in the community without the need to be taken to hospital for immediate follow up care, blood pressure patient data was shared with the local primary care network so that patients could be called for review to confirm or discard hypertension by their GP, and a treatment plan initiated if necessary. 

From 71 records shared, the pilot helped to identify 14 new cases of hypertension, borderline cases or cases needing management review. After analysing these results, the data suggests that by sharing high blood pressure readings with primary care networks across the region, around 500 new cases of hypertension could be diagnosed using just one month of data.

Work is now ongoing with integrated care boards and cardiovascular disease prevention groups, including GPs and community pharmacies across the region to scale up this pilot and allow the data to be shared with them in a secure, scalable, and manageable way.