Integration in General Practice – blood pressure checks make a big impact

Hypertension is also known as high or raised blood pressure. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart must pump. It is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney, and other diseases.

It affects one in four people in England, and it is the third biggest risk factor for premature death and disability after poor diet and smoking. It is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

People from the most deprived areas in England are 30% more likely than the least deprived to
have high blood pressure which is why it is vital to identify it early in patients to address the health
inequalities that exist in some communities in Sussex. The earlier the diagnosis, the better health
outcomes for the patient, which also benefits the NHS in the long-term.

Aware that within the Sussex Integrated Care System only 64.6% of those estimated to have hypertension had been ‘detected’, Little Common and Old Town Surgeries in Bexhill-On-Sea joined forces with their local Primary Care Network and public health organisation, One You East Sussex, to hold a hypertension awareness event led by Dr Phil Stocks.

The surgeries identified patients who in the last three to five years had recorded high blood pressure but had not been diagnosed as hypertensive. Those on the obesity register were also identified. The aim was to find those who were most at risk.

Patients were contacted via phone or text. Checks were also made if those patients had home blood pressure monitors and could provide readings. Those without were invited to the event.

131 booked to attend the event, with 100 attending. Those that attended were checked by a nurse and the GP saw all those with an irregular pulse or those with a blood pressure reading of >180/110.

The event identified three patients with blood pressure >180/110 who commenced immediate treatment for hypertension. 35 patients had systolic blood pressure >140 and 24 had diastolic blood pressure >90 They were informed what this meant to their health and given advice on how to change their lifestyle.

Four weeks after the event saw eight people diagnosed with hypertension.

75% of those who attended said they had a good/very good understanding of the options available to manage their condition. Over 80% said they understood the benefits of managing their condition with 86% saying they felt able/very able to manage their blood pressure. 58% of those that responded to the follow up work said they had already made lifestyle changes, including three people who had stopped smoking within four weeks of attending the event.

This event had a clear and positive impact on the health of those that attended. 40% of those registered with these surgeries are aged 65 or over. It is a fine example of how a more focused and joined-up approach to targeting healthcare locally, based on the specific needs of a community, can make a real difference.

The formalisation of the Integrated Care System for Sussex on 1 July 2022 will see a greater emphasis on this kind of approach. Bexhill has now secured funding for six further events like this throughout 2022.