What is home blood pressure monitoring?
In England, there are over eight million people diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure).
A blood pressure test is a simple way of checking if someone’s blood pressure is too high or too low. Blood pressure tests can be carried out at a number of places, including a GP practice, some pharmacies and supermarkets, at an NHS health check appointment; offered to adults in England aged 40 to 74, or at home using a patient’s own digital blood pressure monitor.
Home blood pressure monitoring enables patients with hypertension to measure and share their blood pressure readings with their GP from their home.
There are a variety of low-cost monitors to buy to check blood pressure at home. It’s important to make sure you use equipment that has been properly tested. The British and Irish Hypertension Society (BHS) has information about validated blood pressure monitors.
Home blood pressure monitoring has been identified as a priority for cardiovascular disease management during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that patients who are vulnerable to becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, can manage their hypertension well and remotely, without the need to attend GP appointments.
What are the benefits?
There is a substantial evidence base supporting the use of home blood pressure monitoring. It has been shown to:
- give a better reflection of blood pressure, as being tested in somewhere like a GP surgery can make patients feel anxious and can affect the result
- allow patients to monitor their condition more easily in the long term
- reduce the incidence of clinical events such as death, heart attack or stroke, over five years
- save GP time by shifting care from doctors to other members of the multidisciplinary team
- be cost effective.
Regular home blood pressure monitoring across a population of 50,000 patients could prevent up to 300 heart attacks and 477 strokes over three years.
What are we doing to help?
Since October 2020, over 22,000 blood pressure monitors have been distributed around England so that patients can record their blood pressure and send their readings to their GP to review, by telephone, email or via a remote monitoring platform.
In addition, those who already own a blood pressure monitor can discuss with their GP how to monitor their blood pressure at home. From April 2021, a further 198,000 blood pressure monitors will be available.
This work, called Blood Pressure @home, forms one part of a range of initiatives being developed by the NHS to provide better connected, more personalised care in people’s homes including care homes, supported by technology including remote monitoring.
What support is available for NHS staff?
Resources to support NHS staff to implement home blood pressure monitoring in their local area, such as a standard operating procedure, can be found on our FutureNHS workspace (this platform requires users to register and log in).
What support is available for patients?
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has a wide range of tools and information available to support patients learn about their high blood pressure. These resources can be found on their Manage your blood pressure at home hub, which was created to help measure and manage blood pressure at home during the pandemic. It includes:
- How to measure blood pressure at home – video: Video demonstration with a BHF senior cardiac nurse, showing patients how to measure blood pressure at home.
- High blood pressure and coronavirus: BHF medical experts answer questions about how the COVID-19 coronavirus can affect people with heart disease, including hypertension.
- Six tips for reducing blood pressure:Tips to help reduce your blood pressure, or control it, following a diagnosis of high blood pressure.
- Understanding blood pressure booklet: Booklet for people with high blood pressure to help them understand the condition. Including information on what high blood pressure is and how to reduce it. This is available to download or to order in print.
- Online community: Free online space for people with heart and circulatory conditions to get information and support from people who are going through similar situations.
Other useful resources:
- Blood Pressure UK: How to measure your blood pressure at home (learn how to use a home monitor and download the home blood pressure monitoring resources)
- Stroke Association: Risks of high blood pressure
- British and Irish Hypertension Society: List of validated blood pressure monitors
- Blood Pressure UK: Introducing high blood pressure booklets in 32 languages
- • EasyHealth.org.uk: Having your blood pressure taken (easy read)