Why could you have high blood pressure and not even know it? One in eight adults suffer from NIGHTTIME spikes not seen at daytime GP appointments, study suggests
- Fifteen percent of adults ages 40 to 75 had high blood pressure at night
- Oxford University experts say they would not be seen in daytime tests
- High blood pressure increases a person’s risk of heart attacks, strokes, and even death
Millions of Britons may be suffering from high blood pressure without knowing it because its levels only rise at night, research suggests.
An Oxford University study found that one in eight people aged 40 to 75 had hypertension at night that wouldn’t show up at a daytime GP appointment.
Having high blood pressure increases a person’s risk of heart attacks, strokes, and even death, especially if left untreated.
Healthy people often see their blood pressure drop at night as the body relaxes and prepares for sleep.
But the researchers found that the opposite is true in 15 percent of people.
The NHS watchdog NICE currently recommends that GPs diagnose patients based solely on daytime blood pressure levels.
But the Oxford team is in charge of ambulatory monitoring, when a cuff is worn over a 24-hour period, it should be worn more often.
Millions of Britons may be suffering from high blood pressure without knowing it because its levels only rise at night (stock image)
Lead author of the study, Professor Lionel Tarassenko, said: “Daytime blood pressure measurements are not enough.
Blood pressure follows a cyclic pattern over 24 hours. Normally, it goes down at night during sleep and then goes up after you wake up.
‘For the ‘reverse hunters’, mostly older people, sometimes with diabetes or kidney disease, the pattern is reversed. Blood pressure rises at night and then falls after waking up.
“This means that ‘reverse dippers’ have their blood pressure lower during the day, so they will be falsely reassured by daytime monitoring at home or at the GP’s clinic.”
The study involved around 21,000 patients from 28 GP practices and four hospitals in the Oxford area.
In patients admitted to the hospital, the researchers found that nearly half (49 percent) of these patients were “inverters.”
About 15 percent of the community participants had high blood pressure at night.
In both the hospital and community patient groups, one in three reverse dippers had at least one cardiovascular disease.
General Practitioner Laura Armitage, a researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, added: “Our research shows that measuring blood pressure overnight could help identify one in eight adults in England. who has undiagnosed hypertension.
“Importantly, this would also lead to a reduction in cardiovascular disease and death.
“This highlights the need for GPs to offer their patients 24-hour blood pressure screening.”
The research was published in the British Journal of General Practice.
WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MY HEALTH?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if left untreated, it increases the risk of serious problems, such as heart attacks and strokes.
More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many don’t realize it.
The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked.
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. Systolic pressure (the top number) is the force with which your heart pumps blood throughout your body.
Diastolic pressure (lowest number) is the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessels. Both are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
As a general guide:
- High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 mmHg or higher.
- Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg
- Low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60 mmHg or less.
- A blood pressure reading between 120/80 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep it under control.
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra pressure on your blood vessels, heart, and other organs, such as your brain, kidneys, and eyes.
Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and life-threatening conditions, including:
- heart disease
- heart attacks
- heart failure
- Peripheral arterial disease
- aortic aneurysms
- kidney disease
- vascular dementia