Patients should be given regular urine tests to ensure they are taking medication after a new study showed it identifies those who are ignoring prescriptions and encourages greater compliance.

 

Researchers from the University of Manchester tested 238 patients with high blood pressure and discovered that nearly one third were not taking tablets on a regular basis to lower their blood pressure.

 

However following testing, more than 80 per cent either took their medication correctly, or improved their adherence, leading to an average drop in blood pressure by between 20 and 30 mmHg between the urine test and the final clinic visit.

Such a significant drop in blood pressure across all patients could translate into an approximate 45 per cent reduction in risk of coronary heart disease and a 65 per cent reduction in the risk of stroke, the researchers calculate.

Regularly screening patients to find out whether or not they are taking medication could save lives, and bring big cost savings for the NHS, they conclude.

 

Professor Tomaszewski, of the University of Manchester said: “The urine test creates an opportunity for patients and their doctors to discuss the barriers to regular taking of blood pressure lowering medications.

 

“The doctors can then act on these barriers and provide the support the patients need to adhere to the treatment regimes.

 

“The blood pressure drop we see as a result of this test being used in clinical practice is likely to save lives. It is also likely to have an important impact on health economy if this test is used routinely”.

 

Coronary heart disease is responsible for nearly 70,000 deaths each year in Britain, an average of 190 people each day.  Likewise strokes kill 40,000 people annually in the UK.  High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is responsible for a large number of cases as it places a constant train on the heart and blood vessels.

The study suggests that thousands of people could be saved if regular urine tests were brought in to make sure people were complying with medication.

 

Dr Pankaj Gupta the first author of the paper from the University of Leicester’s 

 

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and National Centre for Drug Adherence Testing (NCAT) based at Leicester’s Hospitals said: “High blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for premature death internationally.

 

“Conversion of the majority of non-adherent hypertensive patients to adherence with a significant drop in blood pressure is an important breakthrough, given that previous studies showed limited benefits from complex and costly interventions.”

 

The research showed that most people simply forget to take pills to lower their blood pressure

 

Professor Bryan Williams, Chair of Medicine, UCL, and Chairman of the European Society of Cardiology Council on Hypertension said: “This research is important because it shows that patients taking multiple blood pressure pills are often failing to take all of their medications and this leaves them at increased risk of poor blood pressure control and risk of stroke and heart disease.

 

“The research shows that identifying this problem can lead to better adherence to treatment and better blood pressure control and will reduce the risk of these patients.

 

“These techniques for monitoring treatment should be more widely available on the NHS to improve patient outcomes.”

 

The research was published in the journal Hypertension.