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Causes of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a serious health issue and is now becoming more common and a growing concern in the United Kingdom.

This is clearly evident from the following facts and statistics published by Public Health England:

  • High blood pressure affects nearly 1 in 4 individuals,
  • It is the third-biggest risk factor for premature deaths and disability, after smoking, in England,
  • At least ½ of all the cardiac arrests and strokes are linked with high blood pressure,
  • It is also among the major risk factors for developing chronic kidney diseases and dementia, Over 5.5 million individuals in England have undiagnosed high BP and remain untreated, thereby putting their lives at serious risk.

High blood pressure is estimated to affect over 1.5 billion individuals worldwide by the year 2025.

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, occurs when the pressure of your blood is persistently higher than the pressure that is considered normal. The optimal blood pressure rate is under 120/80mmHg.  Readings above this range (for example, 130-139/80-89) are considered as stage 1 high blood pressure, while stage 2 is 140 and above/90 and above.

Blood Pressure Chart

Blood Pressure Chart

High blood pressure can be dangerous because the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the body and further leads to hardening of the arteries, thereby increasing the risk of developing a stroke and heart failure.  Although the exact causes of high blood pressure are still unknown, there are many factors linked to it.  These factors are believed to have a strong influence on blood pressure, thereby increasing the likelihood of developing the condition.

Age

It is estimated that approximately 1 in 2 individuals over 65 have high blood pressure.  This indicates that you may be exposed to the risk of high blood pressure as you age.

Family History

Studies also show that family history also increases the risk of high blood pressure.  So, if high blood pressure tends to run in your family then it’s important that you closely monitor yours and manage it proactively to reduce the chances of developing it in the future.

Obesity

It is believed that people who are overweight or obese can develop high blood pressure.  This is backed by the fact that as your weight increases, more blood is needed by your body to supply nutrients and oxygen to the tissues. So, when the volume of blood circulation through the vessels shoots up, so does the pressure on the walls of your arteries.

A Diet Rich in Sodium and Poor in Potassium

Your diet also influences your blood pressure level. If your diet is rich in sodium and has very little potassium, it can increase your likelihood of developing high blood pressure.  This is because sodium causes the body to retain fluid, while potassium helps balance the amount of salt in the cells.  So, if your diet has too much salt and little potassium, you will retain and accumulate salt in the blood, thereby putting you at risk of high blood pressure.

Other potential causes include:

  • High alcohol intake,
  • Stress,
  • Minimal physical activity, and
  • Frequent use of tobacco.

To lower the risk of developing high blood pressure, monitor and manage your blood pressure at home yourself. Consider investing in a high quality home blood pressure monitoring machine, such as A&D’s UA-651BLE Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Smart Bluetooth Low Energy Connectivity to check your blood pressure daily.  It is easy to use, and offers reliable and accurate reading.  Also, seek proper treatment and adopt a healthy lifestyle to minimize your risk.

A&D UA-651BLE Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Bluetooth® Smart Bluetooth® Low Energy Connectivity

The UA-651BLE is the 4th generation of the range of A&D telehealth blood pressure monitors, and is designed for the home user as part of the ‘wellness connected™’ family of products and free app, A&D Connect.

Features:

  • 4th gen. blood pressure monitor telehealth range
  • Bluetooth® Version 4.0LE/ Bluetooth® Smart communication
  • Continua™ Certified – to ensure interoperability
  • Compatible with UC-352BLE scales and UT-201BLE thermometer
  • A&D’s Slimfit™ Cuff 22-32cm
  • 2nd gen. IHB Indicator
  • WHO Blood Pressure Class.Indicator
  • Internal 30-memory + Average Reading
  • ESH Clinical Validation

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Saving time with the Wellpoint Kiosk

The consulting time of medical specialists at the University Hospital Antwerp has been fundamentally improved over the past two years. The screening of blood pressure, heart rate, height, weight, BMI and temperature is no longer done by a doctor, nurse or clinician but by the patient himself.  This has been possible thanks to the WellPoint Kiosk featuring the A&D TM-2657P Waiting Room Monitor.  Professor Dr. Guy Hans, medical director of the University Hospital talks more about it.

The WellPoint Kiosk is a collection of devices with which the patient can independently measure his/her vital parameters, such as blood pressure, heart rate, weight and temperature.  In addition, the patient can provide the healthcare professional with other clinically desired information by completing personal validated questionnaires for pre-screening and risk assessment.  The results are immediately passed to the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and therefore do not have to be entered manually, saving time and reducing data entry errors.  Healthcare professionals can immediately discuss the results with the patient during consultation hours.

At UZA, there are six of these kiosks embedded in the hospital flow.  Plans for further expansion contain the integration of this kiosk to keep the patient flow within the hospital as efficient as possible.

“The decision to work with this kiosk stems from the accreditation requirements set by JCI” says Professor Hans. “When we were working on accreditation to comply with the JCI quality standard for safe and quality care1, it became clear that we had a problem: we did not have the minimal clinical data of patients required”

This is a problem that is not unique to UZA. According to Professor Hans, many hospitals do not have this minimal set of patient data.

“In order to meet the quality standards for accreditation of JCI, UZA went in search of a solution to gather this patient data on a wide scale. We found this in the WellPoint Kiosk.”

Working with the kiosk has several advantages according Professor Hans.

“Thanks to the kiosk, we receive the results of the vital parameters from every patient who comes here during consultation hours. In this way, the physician has an up-to-date and accurate ‘snapshot’ of the patient’s physical condition during the consultation. Another important advantage is time saving; care providers do not have to take measurements manually anymore. That saves about 6 minutes per patient. Multiplied by the tens of thousands of patients who visit the UZA every year … that time saving is therefore enormous”.

Professor Hans emphasizes that UZA uses the time gained to optimize and improve the quality of care rather than to reduce costs.

Professor Hans commented that the quality of the consultation hours has greatly improved thanks to the kiosk.

“As soon as the patient enters my office, I have the vital parameters needed to start the conversation.  In addition, the kiosk is a great tool for working on primary prevention. We often see patients who have no symptoms but with this standard screening process, an increased blood pressure or a deviation in, for example the heart rate, is noticed.  If the doctor suspects abnormal / concerning results, he can immediately take action, consider referral to a specialist or back to the GP.  In particular, from a preventive point of view, the Kiosk is a particularly valuable addition to the care we provide as UZA.  Its something we couldn’t do without!”

1 https://www.jointcommissioninternational.org/

TM-2657P Waiting Room Blood Pressure Monitor

The TM-2657P is the latest model in the range of A&D freestanding fully automatic blood pressure monitors. Designed for high foot fall areas to save time and money offering a Return on Investment (ROI) normally within 6 months.

Features:

  • Can be integrated into Electronic Patient Record solution (EPR)
  • User-friendly small footprint & barrier-free design
  • Simple to use, one-touch measurement
  • Network connectivity options using Bluetooth or RS-232
  • Reliable high speed printer with easy paper replacement
  • Irregular Heart Beat (IHB) indicator
  • BHS A/A Clinically Validated

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of irregular heartbeat. It occurs when your heart is not pumping as well as it should, resulting from a disturbance in the electrical conduction pathways in the heart.  A condition more common with advancing age, if left untreated can lead to serious complications such as heart failure and stroke.

Being the most common sustained heart rhythm disturbance (arrhythmia)1 and affecting 1 in 4 middle-aged adults at some point in their life2, people with AF are three to five times more likely to suffer a devastating, debilitating, disabling and often fatal stroke than people without AF.

Resulting from a disturbance in the electrical conduction pathways in the heart leading to an irregular pulse which can often be quite rapid, AF often contributes to symptoms of palpitations, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, light headedness, fainting and fatigue.

The Scale of the Problem

AF-related strokes cause unacceptably high levels of death and disability, and the scale of the problem across Europe is increasing as our populations age.

By 2035 the number of strokes is projected to rise by 34%, to over 800,000 events.3  At the same time, the number of people with AF is increasing and, by 2060, it is estimated that nearly 18 million adults over the age of 55 will have AF.4

Screening for Atrial Fibrillation

No country has yet established a national screening programme (NSP) for AF, including the UK.  However, there is an increasing body of evidence suggesting screening may be beneficial, prompting recommendations from prominent expert bodies to screen for AF.5  The British Cardiovascular Society issued a statement suggesting that it would be in the public interest to initial such a screening programme.6

Several factors have led to an increased interest in AF screening.8

The prevalence of AF is increasing due to a combination of population ageing, changing patterns of risk factors, and improved survival rates in other, contributory forms of cardiovascular disease.

Newer treatments are available in the form of novel oral anticoagulants (NOACS), which are safer, at least as effective as the existing treatment mainstay of vitamin K antagonists, and simpler to use (as they do not require regular blood tests).

A number of relatively inexpensive screening devices for detecting AF in the community have been developed and the field may evolve rapidly as new technologies and algorithms emerge.

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitors

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitors (ABPMs) provide testing to determine the presence of hypertension by taking measurements during normal daily activities, over a span of 24 (or more) hours. They help to diagnose as well as monitor high blood pressure (hypertension), usually defined as a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or more and a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or more.

ABPMs are portable blood pressure devices worn on a belt, with the cuff being attached around the upper arm. All types of daily activities, including sleep, may be normally carried out while wearing this device.

Benefits of ABPM

By giving an accurate picture of a patient’s blood pressure throughout the day and during sleep, it can prevent unnecessary prescribing of hypertension-reducing drugs for white coat hypertension. It also helps patients with masked hypertension to receive required treatment. It reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease, and organ damage caused by hypertension, and also shows how well a person responds to a long-acting antihypertensive drug.

Footnotes

  1. Camm AJ, Kirchhof P, Lip GY, et al. 2010. Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation: the Task Force for the Management of Atrial Fibrillation of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Eur Heart J 31(19): 2369-429
  2. Kirchhof P, Benussi S, Kotecha D, et al. 2016. 2016 ESC Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS. Europace 18(11): 1609-78
  3. Stroke Alliance for Europe. 2017. The burden of stroke in Europe. London: Stroke Alliance for Europe
  4. Krijthe BP, Kunst A, Benjamin EJ, et al. 2013. Projections on the number of individuals with atrial fibrillation in the European Union, from 2000 to 2060. Eur Heart J 34(35): 2746-51
  5. Kirchhof P, Benussi S,Kotecha D,et al. (2016) 2016 ESC guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS. Eur Heart J 37(38):28932962
  6. British Cardiovascular Society (2014) BCS statement on screening for atrial fibrillation to prevent stroke (BCS), http://www.bcs.com/pages/news_full.asp?NewsID=19792297 (accessed 22 May 2017).