THE BLOOD PRESSURE UNIT of St George’s Heathcare NHS Trust has been named by an international body as a centre of excellence, providing a high level of care to its patients.

The Unit, part of the Department of Cardiology at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, is one of just seven in the UK to be given the status by the European Hypertension Society and only one other London hospital has been given this recognition.

In order to receive the title, the Unit had to demonstrate that it worked closely with other related specialities within the hospital, that it diagnosed and treated high numbers of patients, dealt with complex cases, had experienced staff with top level expertise who were active in research and the Unit had access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

The Blood Pressure Unit, now in its 18th year at the hospital, is the specialist hypertension centre for South London and the only unit of its kind in the region, taking patients with complex blood pressure problems from across south east England as well from the local area.

Professor Graham McGregor, the unit’s lead consultant, said: “Being named as a Centre of Excellence is recognition that we can provide a high standard of care and this is due mainly to the quality of our nursing and medical staff. ”

“This is welcome praise for the Blood Pressure Unit and great news for its patients, whether from Wandsworth or further afield.”

The status was one that the Blood Pressure Unit applied for with backing from the British Hypertension Society, a research body which aims to understand what causes high blood pressure and to improve treatments. The other centres of excellence are at hospitals in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leicester, Manchester and Cambridge.

One of the most recent additions to the Blood Pressure Unit’s range of services are machines which can monitor blood pressure round the clock while a patient is going about their everyday routine. The 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitors take readings at intervals throughout the day and store the information on a computer chip, allowing doctors to see how a patient’s blood pressure is changing in different circumstances and how it is responding to medication.

“There a number of conditions for which this monitoring is very useful. Among them is a condition known as ‘white coat hypertension’ which means that a person’s blood pressure is raised with a clinical setting, for example, when they are seeing a doctor in hospital. This equipment enables us to get a true picture of their blood pressure when they are working, relaxing, sleeping or exercising, within their normal routine,” said Professor McGregor.

To be referred for this service or to the Unit, people should see their own GP.

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