Thousands at Risk from Silent Killer

Article excerpt

Byline: Elizabeth Pane

Thousands of people are not being treated properly for a common illness that is a 'silent killer' in Britain.

It is estimated 40 per cent of adults in England and Wales suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, with the numbers increasing with age.

Just a third of all sufferers are aware they have the condition, while a third are not being treated for it and a third are not being treated properly or controlled to recommended targets, according to Professor Bryan Williams of the University Hospitals NHS Trust, in Leicester.

Symptoms are often only noticed by chance and after it has caused long-term damage or increased the risk of heart and kidney diseases, stroke and diabetes.

Prof Williams was part of a National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) review of evidence on the treatment of hypertension sufferers which found a need for improved accuracy of diagnosis and quality of treatment.

'Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer because it often does not present symptoms until it has already taken hold and caused damage,' he said.

Under new guidelines announced yesterday by NICE and the Newcastle Guideline and Development Research Unit, doctors will be asked to start prescribing blood pressure lowering drugs alongside preventative treatments and assessment.

No figures are currently available for the added cost of the extra prescriptions or the amount that could be saved in preventing illnesses from developing.

Dr Wendy Ross, a GP member of the review team, said this could lead to more patients taking three or four drugs at a time but the end result could be more people with controlled blood pressure. …