500,000 in UK missed out on blood pressure lowering drugs during pandemic

Nearly half a million people in England, Scotland and Wales missed out on starting medication to lower their blood pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research published in Nature Medicine.

Using data on routinely dispensed prescriptions, scientists found that 491,306 fewer people than expected started taking blood pressure lowering medication between March 2020 and the end of July 2021.

The researchers said that thousands of people could suffer an avoidable heart attack or stroke due to delays in starting these vital medications known to stave-off deadly heart and circulatory diseases.

Responding to the research, President of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), Professor Bryan Williams, said:

“The study confirms what many of us have observed clinically, not only in the UK but also in many other parts of the world, in terms of interrupted access to chronic disease management during the pandemic. This is likely to be a factor contributing to the reported excess deaths in the UK in the past 12 months, especially the less effective treatment of high blood pressure.

It is well documented that elevated blood pressure contributes to 10 million deaths globally every year, not just in a once in a generation pandemic, but every year. This data shows the potential impact of the pandemic on disruption to routine disease prevention. It also emphasises that the model of care needs urgent review. Patients shouldn’t need to visit doctors to get their blood pressure checked and their treatment dispensed; there are much better and more efficient ways of doing this that would be more convenient and more effective for patients. Perhaps that is the most important take away from this study.”

Find out more

Consensus paper: Virtual management of hypertension: lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic – International Society of Hypertension position paper endorsed by the World Hypertension League and European Society of Hypertension. Published in the Journal of Hypertension.

Video: Virtual management of hypertension