London, July 26 (AMI): University College London researchers recently found in a study on more than 20,000 men and women in England that high blood pressure was picked up less often in people who smoke, despite them being at higher risk of heart disease.
The researchers said that smokers were less likely to be aware that they had high blood pressure than non-smokers.
According to them, spotting the condition was particularly important in those who smoke, especially because being diagnosed can also prompt people to quit.
Writing in an article in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, the researchers described smoking and high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, as key causes of early death.
They point out that national guidelines advocate that doctors encourage those with high blood pressure to stop smoking, and that greater effort should be made to look for signs of the condition in those who smoke.
The study that utilised data from the Health Survey for England in 2003 and 2006 also showed improvements over time in the proportion of people who knew they had high blood pressure.
However, it was being detected less frequently in smokers as compared to non-smokers, or those who used to smoke but had quit.
The study report said that the smokers who had been diagnosed with the condition were more likely to have been told by a health professional to stop smoking than those who did not know they had hypertension, and that they were more likely to have kicked the butt.
One reason for the lack of diagnosis could be that smokers in the study tended to be thinner than those who did not smoke, and doctors might be more likely to test blood pressure in people who were overweight.
Dr Jennifer Mindell, the author of the Cancer Research UK-funded study, said that it was disappointing to find smokers with high blood pressure were not being diagnosed.
"It's important to pick up high blood pressure in everybody but it's particularly important in somebody who already has a higher than average risk of heart disease or stroke, including those who smoke," the BBC quoted Dr. Mindell as saying.
"And anything that gives people additional motivation to quit must be a good thing.
"It is a reminder for GPs that measuring blood pressure in smokers, even if they are thin, is important," Dr. Mindell added.
June Davison, a cardiac nurse from the British Heart Foundation, said: "It is crucial that smokers are aware of their blood pressure as smoking and high blood pressure are among the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This study also highlights that if smokers are made aware of their high blood pressure, it can increase their motivation to stop smoking."
She added that smokers over the age of 40 should go for a health check where their blood pressure will be measured, and advice on quitting smoking can be given. (ANI)