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 at home – using a patient’s own digital blood pressure monitor, a local pharmacy and GP practice, at an NHS Health Check appointment (offered to adults in England aged 40-74), or even in some supermarkets.
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 blood pressure monitors available that patients can buy to use at home. It’s important that any equipment 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 as the NHS recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that patients can manage their hypertension well and remotely, reducing 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 500 heart attacks and 745 strokes over five years. This video produced UCLPartners describes the benefits of remote monitoring blood pressure.
What is NHS England and NHS Improvement doing to help?
Since October 2020, over 220,000 blood pressure monitors have been distributed around England so that patients can record their blood pressure and send their readings to their GP practice 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. If you would like to buy a blood pressure monitor, please go to the British Heart Foundation giftshop.
This work, called Blood Pressure @home, forms one part of a range of initiatives being developed by the NHS to transform health and care services so that people are supported to keep well, recover and manage their health and wellbeing at home.
What support is available for NHS staff?
The Blood Pressure @home programme FutureNHS workspace (platform requires users to register and log in) has a number of resources to support NHS staff to implement home blood pressure monitoring in their local area, such as:
- Standard Operating Procedure
- Implementation guidance pack
- Webinars and staff training videos
- Patient stratification tools
- Patient leaflets and videos
- Digital solution showcases
Alternatively, the British and Irish Hypertension Society have resources for healthcare professionals.
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: Introducing high blood pressure booklets in 32 languages
- Blood Pressure UK: How to measure your blood pressure at home
- Stroke Association: Risks of high blood pressure
- EasyHealth.org.uk: Having your blood pressure taken (Easy Read)