Home Blood Pressure Testing Better Than at Clinics: Study

March 8, 2022 — Everyone was there. You’ve arrived at your scheduled doctor’s appointment,

And the first thing on the case is reuniting with a blood pressure cuff. The first reading can be high. The second reading looks a little better – or maybe a little worse. Which one is right? Answer: Perhaps neither. Individual blood pressure measurements are not as accurate as taking multiple measurements throughout the day and averaging them.

Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day—by about 30 points for systolic pressure.

Or pressure when the heart is beating—and one or two measurements in the doctor’s office may not accurately reflect the average. Says Beverly B. Green, MD. senior fellow at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. Mean blood pressure is the only measurement by which a doctor can accurately diagnose and treat high blood pressure. She says. BUT new research Green and other Kaiser Permanente researchers show that allowing patients. Monitoring their blood pressure at home can help get more reliable measurements.

Nearly one in four US adults with high blood pressure. Does not know they have the condition and are not receiving treatment to control it. Left untreated, this condition can cause heart attacks. Strokes, kidney damage, and other potentially life-threatening health problems. Current guidelines for diagnosing high blood pressure recommend that patients. Those who present with high blood pressure in the clinic should be retested to confirm the results. While guidelines recommend home monitoring before diagnosing high blood pressure, studies show doctors continue to measure blood pressure at their clinics for a second reading.

In a new study published in the Journal of General Internal MedicineGreen

And her colleagues found that home readings were more accurate than measurements taken in clinics or drugstores. “Blood pressure monitoring at home was the best option because it was more accurate” than clinic blood pressure readings, says Green. BUT companion study found that patients prefer to have their blood pressure taken at home, she says. In their study, Green’s group used Kaiser’s electronic health record system to identify people at high risk for high blood pressure based on a recent clinic visit. They then randomly assigned participants to obtain follow-up blood pressure readings at the clinic, at home, or at kiosks in clinics or pharmacies.

Each participant also received a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor, or ABPM. These devices, which people must wear continuously for 24 hours, have cuffs that inflate every 20–30 minutes during the day and every 30–60 minutes at night. Although ABPM is the gold standard test for accurately diagnosing high blood pressure, they are not widely available. Kaiser researchers found that people’s systolic blood pressure readings in clinics tended to be lower than their ABPM measurements, leading to undiagnosed high blood pressure in more than 50% of cases. Kiosk readings were much higher than ABPM measurements and tended to overdiagnose high blood pressure.

The value of home monitoring

  • Branden Villavaso, a 48-year-old New Orleans lawyer who was diagnosed with high blood pressure at 32, attributes his condition to genetics. He says that a home monitor plus occasional ABPM use has finally given his doctor an accurate assessment of his condition.
  • Thanks to this aggressive approach, over the last 3 years, Villavaso’s diastolic pressure has fallen from its former range of 90 to 100 to a more healthy, but not entirely ideal, value of around 80. Meanwhile, his systolic pressure has dropped to around 120, good. below the target of 130.
  • Villavaso says his doctor relied on average blood pressure readings to help guide his medication, and he also credits his wife Chloe, a clinical nurse, for monitoring his progress.
  • While previous studies have found similar benefits of home blood pressure measurement, Greene says the latest study may provide the strongest evidence to date because of the large number of people who took part, the involvement of primary care clinics, and the use of real-world health professionals take measurements instead of people who usually do health research. She says this study is the first to compare kiosk and ABPM results.
“Research shows that helping patients access valid blood pressure readings so they can measure their own blood pressure at home will provide a better picture of the true burden [high blood pressure]says Keith S. Ferdinand, MD, a cardiologist at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He recommends that patients choose a home monitoring device from www.validatebp.org, a non-profit website that lists home blood pressure systems that have been proven to be accurate. “We know it [high blood pressure] is the most common and powerful cause of heart disease and death,” says Ferdinand. “Patients are happy to participate in shared decision-making and actively help in the fight against a potentially fatal disease.”

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