How is your blood pressure? How often do you check it? Perhaps you have your own device at home to monitor your blood pressure whenever you’re not feeling well. Or, maybe you check your blood pressure just in case when you’re at the pharmacy. And, of course, your visit to the family doctor should include a blood pressure check-up.
By the way, what type of device does your doctor use? Manual or electronic?
Over the last 20 years, blood pressure-measuring technology has taken a huge leap forward. In the modern devices—called oscillometric devices—the cuff is inflated and deflated by an automated pump and valve. First, the cuff is inflated to a pressure exceeding the systolic pressure, and then it drops to below the diastolic pressure. Once the blood flow is present, the cuff pressure will vary in sync with the expansion and contraction of the artery. The device then calculates the systolic and diastolic readings using an algorithm. (Cut your risk of heart attack by nearly 52%.)
What you use at home is most likely a semi-automatic monitor, where the cuff is inflated manually using a pumping ball, but it deflates automatically.
Automatic monitors are more precise, and the Canadian Hypertension Education Program Guidelines favor electronic blood pressure measurement over manual ones. However, a recent study conducted by the researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre uncovered that 52 percent of Canadian family doctors are still using manual tensiometers, an old technology commonly associated with misdiagnosis. According to lead author Janusz Kaczorowski, approximately 20 percent of patients on hypertension treatment do not actually suffer from high blood pressure and do not need medication.
Measuring blood pressure manually is still an option, but to ensure the accuracy of the readings, blood pressure must be measured over a 15-minute period. Given that an average visit to the doctor lasts about 10 minutes in total, this is clearly impossible with the current state of affairs. (Millions of people are deficient in CoQ10. You may be one of them.)
There’s another perk to using an automated monitor: the issue of the so-called white coat syndrome is resolved. Also known as white coat hypertension, this is a phenomenon where patients get a high blood pressure reading in a doctor’s office, despite healthy readings in other settings like at home.
Blood pressure may not be noticeable, but it must be taken seriously. If you have any reservations about your diagnosis, you can always ask your doctor to check your blood pressure again using an alternative method. And, of course, your lifestyle is the key to successful blood pressure management. You’ve heard time and again about the importance of eating healthy, exercising regularly, drinking alcohol in moderation, limiting your salt intake, quitting smoking, and keeping your stress levels at bay. These are all simple steps toward healthy blood pressure maintenance.
Related: 5 simple tricks to lower blood pressure