UK's NICE Clears Innovative Blood Pressure Device for NHS Use

Posted 18 January 2013 | By Louise ZornozaRegLink

The UK's cost containment agency, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), has cleared an innovative new blood pressure device that can detect atrial fibrillation (AF) for use by the National Health Service (NHS), according to a new medical technologies guidance issued on 16 January 2013.

The guidance notes that using the WatchBP Home A device could increase the detection rate of AF, which would allow preventative treatment to be given to reduce the incidence of AF-related stroke. It also recommends that the device should be considered for use in people with suspected hypertension (high blood pressure) or those being screened for hypertension in primary care.

The WatchBP Home A is a blood pressure monitor which automatically detects pulse irregularity that may be caused by symptomatic or asymptomatic AF. Blood pressure is taken using a cuff which fits around the upper arm and connects to a small unit which records the reading. The monitor can be used for diagnosing hypertension in a clinical setting as well, with the measurement taken under the supervision of a clinician. 

AF-the most common heart rhythm disturbance-causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate, potentially leading to symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath and palpitations.

Up to 800,000 people are thought to have AF, but the condition is often asymptomatic, leaving a significant number unaware that they have the condition and therefore without treatment.

NICE estimates that use of the WatchBP Home A test could benefit up to 400,000 patients in England alone, saving the NHS up to £26 million a year, primarily through a reduction in the incidence of stroke and associated costs, and that its use in people over 65 could lead to diagnosis of up to 74,000 patients with AF over the next 10 years who would not otherwise be picked up.


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