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Hypertension – the present and the future for diagnosis

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Nurses must advise people with suspected Nurses must advise people with suspected hypertension on lifestyle improvements

Hypertension is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is also implicated in a range of other conditions including dementia and kidney disease.1,2,3 Despite this, hypertension rarely causes any symptoms, meaning that the damage is being done ‘silently’.

If hypertension is diagnosed, the treatment may come with side effects which cause the individual being treated to feel less well than they were before treatment commenced. As a result, it is essential to diagnose and treat appropriately, and to communicate the risks and benefits of treatment effectively in order to optimise adherence and outcomes.

By the end of this article you should:

  • Be aware of the current UK guidelines on the diagnosis of hypertension
  • Recognise how to stage hypertension
  • Understand the rationale for when and how to use pharmacological treatments
  • Be able to advise people with, or at risk of hypertension about lifestyle interventions which can help to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular risk

The current guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on the diagnosis and management of hypertension were published in 2011 and updated in 2016.4 (Figure 1).They are undergoing a full review and update at the moment and the latest version should be ready for publication in 2019.


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