• High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most important preventable causes of premature morbidity and mortality in the UK. Hypertension is a major risk factor for ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, cognitive decline and premature death. Untreated hypertension is usually associated with a progressive rise in blood pressure. The vascular and renal damage that this may cause can culminate in a treatment-resistant state.
  • Blood pressure is normally distributed in the population and there is no natural cut-off point above which ‘hypertension’ definitively exists and below which it does not. The risk associated with increasing blood pressure is continuous, with each 2 mmHg rise in systolic blood pressure associated with a 7% increased risk of mortality from ischaemic heart disease and a 10% increased risk of mortality from stroke.
  • Hypertension is remarkably common in the UK and the prevalence is strongly influenced by age. In any individual person, systolic and/or diastolic blood pressures may be elevated. Diastolic pressure is more commonly elevated in people younger than 50. With ageing, systolic hypertension becomes a more significant problem, as a result of progressive stiffening and loss of compliance of larger arteries. At least one quarter of adults (and more than half of those older than 60) have high blood pressure.

Diagnosing Hypertension

If the clinic blood pressure is 140/90 mmhg or higher, offer Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM)to confirm the diagnosis of hypertension. [2011] when using ABPM to confirm a diagnosis of hypertension, ensure that at least two measurements per hour are taken during the person’s usual waking hours (for example, between 08:00 and 22:00). use the average value of at least 14 measurements taken during the person’s usual waking hours to confirm a diagnosis of hypertension. [2011]


In this guideline the following definitions are used.

  • Stage 1 hypertension  Clinic blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher and subsequent ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) daytime average or home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) average blood pressure is 135/85 mmHg or higher.
  • Stage 2 hypertension  Clinic blood pressure is 160/100 mmHg or higher and subsequent ABPM daytime average or HBPM average blood pressure is 150/95 mmHg or higher.
  • Severe hypertension   Clinic systolic blood pressure is 180 mmHg or higher or clinic diastolic blood pressure is 110 mmHg or higher.

The clinical management of hypertension is one of the most common interventions in primary care. (UK SOURCE)