GPs are closing the gap on true prevalence of disease

Number of undiagnosed hypertension and diabetes cases is falling.

GPs are closing the gap between true levels of disease and cases identified on quality framework registers, analysis by GP shows.

Estimated true prevalence of hypertension in England rose by around 2.7 per cent from 2004/5 to 2007/8. But the number of patients on practice disease registers rose faster.

As a result, the number of people believed to have undiagnosed hypertension fell by 9.5 per cent in this period.

A similar picture emerges for diabetes. Estimated prevalence of diabetes increased by around 7.9 per cent, but the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes fell by 28.7 per cent.

The findings are drawn from a comparison of data from the Eastern Region Public Health Observatory and quality framework prevalence data.

The observatory estimates that the number of people with hypertension rose to 12,678,155 in 2007/8, up 332,767 from 2004/5. The number of people with diabetes increased by 179,362 over the same period to 2,441,846.

But quality framework data show that, over the same period, hypertension cases recorded by practices increased by 934,993 to 6,908,055 and diabetes cases rose by 321,944 to 2,088,335.

As a result, undiagnosed hypertension fell by 9.5 per cent, from 6,372,326 to 5,770,100, and undiagnosed diabetes fell 28.7 per cent, from 496,093 to 353,511.

Dr Mike Knapton, a Cambridgeshire GP and associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said the improvement in diagnoses was 'a testament to the effectiveness of UK general practice'.

Dr Knapton added that, as the number of undiagnosed cases falls, focus would begin to shift to incident cases.

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