To answer this question, Professor Alta Schutte from the School of Population Health, UNSW Medicine & Health, and The George Institute has been awarded a $1.9 million research grant by the Medical Research Future Fund to conduct the NEXTGEN-BP trial.  

Uncontrolled high blood pressure or hypertension is a leading cause of death. Around one in three Australians have the condition and it’s the most common problem managed by General Practitioners (GPs). Additionally, all major hypertension guidelines now recommend out-of-office blood pressure measurement, such as home blood pressure monitoring or 24-hour monitoring

The next generation of wrist-worn wearable blood pressure devices without a cuff hold promise as they are calibrated with a cuff and then take hundreds of blood pressure readings in a week without the user being aware. But the Australian marketplace is dominated by devices that are not validated for accuracy.

Professor Alta Schutte will assess the effectiveness of using a new strategy to manage high blood pressure in primary care. GPs will be guided on medication prescriptions based on hundreds of home blood pressure readings taken from a wrist-worn device, and this will be compared to usual care in around 600 patients over 12 months

“We hope the findings will help determine the accuracy of cuffless blood pressure devices as well as how acceptable and clinically useful these devices may be to manage hypertension in primary care and ultimately help more people get their blood pressure under control,” said Professor Schutte.

If all Australians currently living with high blood pressure were properly treated, as many as 83,000 lives could be saved resulting in a $91.6 billion return. But GPs are hesitant to start or intensify blood pressure treatment after high readings in the clinic due to uncertainty about the reliability of these readings.

“This new research builds on our recent call for action in Australia to improve blood pressure control because on only 32% of people with hypertension have it under control,” said Professor Schutte.

“It the findings prove successful, long-term automated blood pressure readings at home could be rapidly translated into practice, particularly in rural and remote communities, and facilitated through GP telehealth services,” she said.

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