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NICE consults on new device for measuring blood pressure and detecting atrial fibrillation

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today (15 August), opened a consultation on its draft medical technology guidance on the use of a device to measure blood pressure and detect atrial fibrillation.

The use of WatchBP Home A in the NHS for measuring blood pressure, with the additional aim of detecting asymptomatic atrial fibrillation, is supported in the draft medical technology guidance. The draft recommendations note that using WatchBP Home A in primary care could increase the detection rate of atrial fibrillation when compared with taking someone's pulse by hand.

The draft guidance also recommends that WatchBP Home A should be considered for use in people with suspected hypertension (high blood pressure) or those being screened for hypertension in primary care. People with suspected atrial fibrillation should have an electrocardiogram (ECG) in line with NICE clinical guideline 36, ‘Atrial fibrillation'.

Hypertension is defined by a consistent blood pressure reading on different occasions of 140/90mmHg or higher. If left untreated, high blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate, and is the most common heart rhythm disturbance. It can lead to dizziness, shortness of breath and palpitations, but some people have no symptoms and so are not aware that their heart rate is irregular.

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

Professor Carole Longson, Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “The independent Medical Technologies Advisory Committee (MTAC) has produced draft guidance supporting the use of Watch BP Home A, based on the evidence it considered. This evidence indicates that the device can offer advantages in measuring blood pressure and detecting atrial fibrillation and that using the device in primary care could increase the detection rate of atrial fibrillation compared with taking the pulse by hand. This would allow preventative treatment to be given to reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation-related stroke.

“Using WatchBP Home A is associated with estimated overall cost savings per person screened of between £2.98 and £4.26 for people aged 65 or over, depending on their age. We welcome comments on the draft guidance as part of the current consultation.”

More information on the medical technology draft guidance consultation for Watch BP is available athttp://guidance.nice.org.uk/MT/145. The consultation closes on 12 September 2012.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

About the guidance

1. The draft medical technologies guidance, “WatchBP Home A for diagnosing and monitoring hypertension and detecting atrial fibrillation”, is available at http://guidance.nice.org.uk/MT/145 .

2. The WatchBP Home A device is manufactured by Microlife.

3. Use of WatchBP Home A in primary care is associated with estimated overall cost savings per person screened ranging from £2.98 for those aged between 65 and 74 years to £4.26 for those aged 75 years and over. There is uncertainty about the costs and benefits for people under 65 years of age, however it is likely that using the device in this group will benefit patients and the healthcare system.

4. The average cost of the WatchBP Home A device stated in the sponsor's submission is £75 (excluding VAT).

5. Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. It is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting up to 500,000 people in the UK.

About the Medical Technologies Evaluation Programme

6. Established by NICE in 2009, the focus of this area of work is specifically on the evaluation of innovative medical technologies, including devices and diagnostics. The types of products which might be included are medical devices that deliver treatment such as those implanted during surgical procedures, technologies that give greater independence to patients, and diagnostic devices or tests used to detect or monitor medical conditions. The independent Medical Technology Advisory Committee has two core remits: selecting medical technologies for evaluation by NICE guidance programmes and also developing medical technologies guidance itself. The guidance applies to the NHS in England, and is not mandatory.

More information is available at http://www.nice.org.uk/MT.

About NICE

7. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

8. NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments, medical technologies (including devices and diagnostics) and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS.

9. NICE produces standards for patient care:

  • quality standards - these reflect the very best in high quality patient care, to help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care deliver excellent services
  • Quality and Outcomes Framework - NICE develops the clinical and health improvement indicators in the QOF, the Department of Health scheme which rewards GPs for how well they care for patients
  • Commissioning Outcomes Framework - NICE develops the potential indicators for the COF, the scheme starting in 2013, which will help measure the health outcomes and quality of care commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

10. NICE provides advice and support on putting NICE guidance and standards into practice through its implementation programme, and it collates high quality guidance and evidence-based information to help professionals deliver the best patient care through NHS Evidence.

This page was last updated: 15 August 2012

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Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.