500,000 people ‘missed starting on blood pressure-lowering drugs during Covid’

Posted: January 23rd 2023


I was talking to some colleagues at Nuffield last week and we were musing on the impact of the pandemic in creating some long term health legacies connected with the collapse of business as usual in the NHS. This story showcases one example, it tells us:

Nearly half a million people in England, Scotland and Wales missed out on starting their blood pressure-lowering drugs during the Covid-19 pandemic, research suggests.

Experts have warned that delays in getting medication to stave off deadly heart and circulatory diseases mean thousands of people are at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

They said the findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, highlight the need to identify and treat people so they can avoid developing life-threatening conditions.

“The NHS has already taken important and positive steps towards identifying people with high blood pressure as early as possible.

“However, we need this focus to be sustained in the long term to prevent any increase in heart attacks and strokes which will add to a healthcare system already under extreme pressure.”

As part of the research supported by the BHF, the experts looked at 1.32 billion records of medication dispensed to 15.8 million people between April 1 2018 and July 31 2021.

They found that 491,306 fewer people than expected started taking blood pressure-lowering medication between March 2020 and July 2021, including 402,448 in England, 60,033 in Scotland and 28,825 in Wales.

The researchers estimate that if these individuals’ high blood pressure remained untreated, it could lead to more than 13,500 additional cardiovascular events, including over 2,000 heart attacks and 3,000 strokes.