Patients checking blood pressure

Patients Checking Blood Pressure at Home Have Better Hypertension Control

Did you know you can monitor your own blood pressure from home? Well, you can, and new research suggests that if you suffer from high blood pressure, this might be the most effective way of getting it under control.

Some clinics offer the home blood pressure monitors for free, but you can also purchase them online relatively inexpensively too. Home monitoring is already part of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines for maintenance of high blood pressure, but according to the new research, home monitoring is not prescribed in the majority of hypertension cases. By having patients monitor themselves, the burden of cost on the healthcare system decreases as well.

The new study was performed by researchers at the Scott and White Health Plan in Texas. After reviewing the medical records of a random sample of patients being treated for hypertension, the researchers noted that only 20 percent of these patients were recommended to perform home blood pressure monitoring as part of their treatment plan.

This finding was even more confounding when the researchers discovered that home monitoring was a key factor in the success of hypertension maintenance for the patients who were doing it. “In the [medical] charts that did use home blood pressure monitoring, approximately 86 percent of those patients had their hypertension under control,” said Roy Champion, one of the study’s authors.

One of the benefits of home monitoring of high blood pressure is it can actually be more accurate than blood pressure measurements taken in a doctor’s office. Often times, people are nervous or not at their best when visiting the doctor, which can raise your blood pressure and trigger a “false positive” for hypertension.

When you measure your blood pressure at home, this tension and stress are absent, providing a clearer indication of your blood pressure. The opposite is also true. Patients can show normal blood pressure at the doctor’s office when the reality is their blood pressure is often raised in their day to day life for any number of reasons. Home measuring will ensure false negatives are also weeded out.

Monitoring Your Own Blood Pressure Can Save Your Life

The researchers of the current study ran a trial, offering patients free home monitors. By the third visit back to the doctor, 67 percent of patients using the home monitors had their blood pressure under control. “Even with the more stringent guidelines, we showed home blood pressure monitoring is vital to achieving control among hypertensive patients,” said Champion.

High blood pressure can put you at risk for all kinds of cardiovascular complications, including heart attacks and stroke. Making sure you are getting the most accurate picture of your blood pressure status is a crucial component to treating high blood pressure and getting it under control. Home monitoring is only the first step to this. If you feel that you are at risk for high blood pressure, talk to your regular physician about access to a home monitoring device and the best course of action for you.

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