Pregnant women with whose blood pressure is even slightly raised can be dramatically more at risk of developing diabetes or heart disease, say scientists. In the first study of its kind a condition called pre-hypertension - where blood pressure is in the upper range of normal - has been shown to be potentially dangerous. Up to one-in-seven expectant mothers in the UK already suffer high blood pressure and the discovery could lead to many more requiring monitoring. Professor Jian-Min Niu, of Guangdong Women and Children Hospital in China, said: "Our findings underscore an important issue that has been long ignored in clinical practice - the fact criteria for hypertension in pregnancy are derived from the general population. "We anticipate if reaffirmed in further research, our study could spark a change in what we currently deem healthy blood pressure in pregnant women." The research found pregnant women whose blood pressure is in the upper ranges of normal could be at high risk of developing metabolic syndrome - a combination of diabetes, hypertension and obesity - and heart disease risk after giving birth. Current guidelines do not distinguish between pregnant women and the general population and define hypertension as persistently elevated blood pressure that is 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) systolic or 90 mm Hg diastolic and above. Readings of 120-139 mm Hg systolic over 80-89 mm Hg diastolic is deemed 'pre-hypertension' - a warning sign of high blood pressure in the future. But the study published in Hypertension said pregnant women with blood pressure in this range had 6.5 times greater odds of developing metabolic syndrome compared to those in the lower normal range. It looked at 507 Chinese women with uncomplicated pregnancies, no history of hypertension and normal blood sugar and cholesterol who underwent seven or more blood pressure measurements along with other standard tests including weight measurements and foetal ultrasounds. Blood sugar and cholesterol levels were also tested at the start, shortly before and after giving birth and once every few months for up to 1.6 years after giving birth. The participants were grouped into three categories including those whose blood pressure remained on the lower end of normal (34%), around the mid-point (52%) or in the pre-hypertension range (13%). A series of snapshot measurements did not predict future risk but patterns of repeated elevations did - highlighting the dynamic nature of blood pressure during pregnancy. The results support the idea of pregnancy as a cardiovascular stress test for women that can reveal underlying disturbances in blood pressure regulation, glucose and cholesterol metabolism. Abnormalities in all three areas can disrupt functions and lead to full-blown cardiovascular disease years down the road. Prof Niu said globally the burden of cardio-metabolic diseases in women has been rising steadily over the last decades. He said: "Blood pressure measurements are already done as matter of routine and cost-effective checkups during pregnancy so our findings underscore this tool's potential to gauge a woman's post-partum cardiovascular risk. "Early identification of metabolic risk factors and implementation of lifestyle modifications may help delay the onset of cardiovascular disease that would present itself 20 to 30 years after delivery."

    HOSPITAL TO SCRAP SELF SERVICE SYSTEM AFTER PATIENTS FAKING SYMPTOMS

    A hospital could be forced to scrap its self-service check-in system because people are inputting symptoms to make them look sicker – so they can jump the queue.

    Chief medical officer at Hull Royal Infirmary, East Yorks., Kevin Philips, admitted some people had been fiddling the system.

    To tackle the problem, he said a new triage system staffed by hospital workers may be introduced to ensure patients are reporting symptoms properly.

    “People who are not that sick are entering details which make them look sicker,” he said.

    “Emergency care in this hospital does not run the same as how it runs in bigger hospitals.

    “We are looking at we put a better triage system, in with humans, which would make a big difference.”

    The trust has been seeing up to 400 patients a day, far more than the figure agreed with Clinical Commissioning Groups in Hull and the East Riding.

    With the trust failing to hit the emergency waiting time target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours since November 2013, new measures are being introduced to reduce waiting times.

    Latest figures show just 78 per cent of patients are being seen within four hours and a trust plan to reach the 95 per cent target by March next year is to be submitted to the Trust Development Authority today.

    Along with a new triage system, frontline staff coming off night shifts will be asked about the problems they experienced during the night to ensure problems are not rolled over into day shifts.

    Attempts will also be made to see patients earlier, allowing those who do not require admission to go home.

    Addressing the board of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Mr Phillips said: “If we can reduce that 50 per cent patients who go home by 5 or 10 per cent, it will make a huge difference.”

    Changes will also be made to rotas to ensure consultants and nurses are on duty to cover surges in admissions, with the majority of patients arriving between noon and midnight.

    Board members expressed concern that it would be another target not met following the failure of other predictions, further harming the trust’s reputation.

    Chief operating officer Ellen Ryabov said: “This plan is not without its risks. The main risk is that it does expect that, in the last quarter of 2016-17, we will still be improving. That goes against performance nationally, where most people don’t.

    “For me, this plan is much more reasonable in terms of taking into account where we are now. But we do have a lot of work to do. It does involve a great deal of improvement over a period of time.

    “Obviously, people might like it to happen tomorrow, but it is simply not going to happen tomorrow.”

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