Over 75,000 blood pressure checks have been carried out in community pharmacies since the launch of the Hypertension case-finding service in October 2021, according to NHS England & Improvement (NHSE&I).
In a blog post, published 17 May, chief pharmaceutical officer David Webb and Dr Shahed Ahmad, NHSE&I clinical director for cardiovascular disease prevention, revealed that over 6,800 pharmacies have signed up to the service, cumulatively carrying out 75,051 blood pressure checks.
Open to over-40s who have not previously been diagnosed with hypertension or a related condition, the service allows pharmacy teams to identify patients with raised blood pressure, a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) specifically, heart attack or stroke. Early detection and treatment can help people live healthier lives, forming part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s goal to prevent 150,000 strokes, heart attacks and dementia cases over the next 10 years.
According to the blog, the NHS is focusing on four high-impact areas in its bid to prioritise CVD prevention. These four areas include “taking a data-driven approach to target inequalities, empowering patients to manage their condition, expanding treatment options and ensuring we make every contact count by making it as convenient as possible for people to get checked”.
Mr Webb and Dr Ahmad also stressed that they wanted more pharmacies “specifically those in areas of health deprivation” to sign up to the service. It is estimated that the diagnosis gap is largest among the most deprived 20 per cent of the population. This group account for nearly a third of avoidable mortality from CVD under the age of 75.
Tackling health inequality
That is why NHSE&I have named Hypertension case-finding as one of the five clinical areas of priority in the NHS Core20Plus5 approach to support the reduction of health inequalities. “Community pharmacies are easily accessible for most people,” said the organisation. “They can drop in without needing to make an appointment at a time that is convenient to them or at the request of their GP.”
“All blood pressure readings are sent to the GP from the community pharmacy, joining up services to speed up access to care and prevention of strokes and heart attacks in otherwise undiagnosed patients,” added Mr Webb and Dr Ahmad.