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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 10:26 GMT
DIY doctoring costs Brits millions
Home test
Blood pressure checks can be carried out at home
The amount spent on devices such as blood pressure testers and pregnancy kits has soared over the last few years, says a survey.

The market for "self-diagnostic" products has expanded from 41.2 million five years ago to 54.3 million in 2002, according to Mintel.

Almost two-thirds of Britons have at least one device at home - one in seven said they had three or more.

These included blood sugar monitors, pulse testers and thermometers.

Some of the extra money is being spent on hi-tech versions of standard home health equipment - such as digital thermometers and blood glucose testers.

These days many people are much more aware of their health, and often want to try to prevent illnesses before they start
Jenny Catlin, Mintel
Many diabetics have the option of a prescribed low-tech tester, but choose to spend extra for the convenience of the digital version.

Sales of blood glucose testers are the biggest area of growth - rising by 65% in the past five years.


Jenny Catlin, a Mintel consumer analyst said that another reason behind the rise was that people - particular the young - were keen to catch any health problems early.

She said: "These days many people are much more aware of their health, and often want to try to prevent illnesses before they start, rather than taking medicine once the illness has kicked in.

"They also realise that spotting symptoms early on can really improve the chances of remaining healthy.

"Long waiting lists mean that it is not always easy or convenient to get ot the doctor, which means that more people are choosing to go it alone."

Younger people, she said, wished to be "self-standing" when it came to medical advice.

Government initiatives are trying to encourage so-called "expert patients" to be given the know-how to monitor and manage long-term conditions at home.

Diabetes and asthma are just two common conditions in which well-trained home management has been shown to lead to better outcomes for the patient.

In asthma, regular use of a "peak flow meter" - which is often available on prescription - can help patients keep track of their condition and gauge the success of preventive medication.

There has been an upsurge in the past decade in home testing kits, not just for pregnancy, but for a wide range of other problems, including urine blood sugar testers, rudimentary semen analysis, and ovulation prediction.

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