For high blood pressure, home measurement is best

(Consumer Reports) — If you have high blood pressure, you’re better off taking measurements periodically at home than relying on those taken in your doctor’s office, according to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It found that multiple home readings provide a more accurate picture of blood-pressure control—and thus might lead to better treatment.

Researchers analyzed systolic (upper) blood-pressure measurements taken from 444 veterans with hypertension over 18 months. They had their blood pressure measured in three ways: via a home monitor that transmitted measurements electronically three times a week; during regular office visits (approximately once a month) with their primary-care provider; and at 6-month intervals by the researchers conducting the study.

Rates of blood-pressure control—defined as a systolic reading of less than 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for in-office measurements and less than 135 mm Hg for home measurements—varied widely across the three methods, with the lowest rates (28 percent) coming from single doctor’s office measurements and the highest (68 percent) from the research measurements. The low rate of “controlled” readings at the doctor’s office could potentially lead to overtreatment with antihypertensive drugs, since physicians would rely on numbers that might be artificially high in determining where to go with drug treatment.


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