It seems we are all concerned about our blood pressure, whether it’s too high or too low. If your doctor has raised concerns about your blood pressure, you may have gone out and purchased an at-home device to monitor it. By now you also know that for accurate readings you shouldn’t check it after a meal, after physical activity or while standing up. By following those tips you can get fairly close to an accurate blood pressure reading.
But to be even clearer about your stroke risk, researchers have found that there is a specific time of the day to check your blood pressure, which reveals the most accurate results.
Data was analyzed from individuals in Japan and researchers found checking blood pressure in the morning was a greater predictor for stroke risk, as opposed to checking it at night.
Blood pressure has a tendency to be higher in the morning, especially among Asian populations. Therefore, morning blood pressure readings are more important in Asian populations.
The study consisted of 4,300 Japanese people who had at least one factor for heart disease – either high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Over the course of two weeks participants monitored their blood pressure at home – once in the morning and again in the evening. Participants were then followed for four years and 75 strokes were recorded.
A morning blood pressure reading higher than 155 mmHg was associated with a risk of stroke that was seven times higher than a morning reading below 135 mmHg. Evening blood pressure over 155 mmHg was not associated with an increased risk of stroke compared to a reading below 135 mmHg.
Evening blood pressure readings may be less predictive of stroke risk because other factors – such as hot baths, warm showers or eating – may be influencing blood pressure.
Although morning blood pressure readings have been linked with higher stroke risk, taking blood pressure medication in the morning has not been found to be more effective.
The findings were done on Japanese participants only, so further research is required to determine if the results apply to other populations as well.
There are two numbers involved in a blood pressure reading: systolic and diastolic. Systolic, the top number, refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries with every heartbeat. Diastolic, the bottom number, measures the pressure in arteries between heartbeats.
Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80 mmHg, prehypertension is 120-139/80-90 mmHg, stage one hypertension is 140-159/90-99 mmHg, stage two hypertension is 160+/100+ and hypertensive crisis is a reading of over 180/110.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help bring the numbers down. Lifestyle changes that can help improve blood pressure numbers include: