Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Tracking Your Own Blood Pressure?

I just heard that people with high blood pressure are supposed to go out and buy machines to monitor their pressure at home. Is this really a good idea or just a scam to get people to buy the monitors?

Answer (Published 7/24/2008)

Several medical organizations, including the American Heart Association, have recommended that everyone who has high blood pressure invest in a home monitor to perform regular checks. This was proposed because only one-third of the 72 million Americans who have high blood pressure have it under control. Frequent monitoring - by patients, at home - gives doctors a more realistic idea of the range of a patient's blood pressure and shows more clearly how pressure is responding to medication. More frequent monitoring than is possible with visits to doctors' offices also facilitates fine tuning of drug dosages, as well as revealing the effects of such lifestyle measures as weight loss, exercise, and limiting salt intake.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Heart Health - A healthful diet and lifestyle, along with prudent supplementation, can help prevent or lessen the risk of heart disease and related illnesses such as hypertension, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Learn more, and get your free, personalized nutritional supplement and vitamin recommendation today.

There is precedent for this type of home testing: for years, people with diabetes have been monitoring their blood sugar with home devices. Blood pressure monitors for home use cost from $50 to $100. You can get them at drug stores and online. The groups that recommend them have also called upon insurers to pay for monitors prescribed by physicians. If you buy one on the advice of your physician, you'll have to bring it into the office so its measurements can be compared to those obtained there.

Your suspicion that this recommendation may have been influenced by manufacturers of the home monitors has been voiced elsewhere. Experts who think home monitoring is a great idea have said that the recommendation would be more compelling if one of the leading manufacturers of the monitors didn't support the American Heart Association's blood pressure Web site to the tune of $300,000 to $400,000 per year. (However, that amount is only a small fraction of the AHA's $800 million annual revenues.)

Instead of focusing on the unfortunate issue of industry ties, I would look at the individual benefits home monitoring can make possible. These include a clearer idea of your blood pressure, better medical management, and, perhaps, motivation to make the lifestyle changes that can help: losing weight, increasing exercise, practicing relaxation methods, and reducing salt intake.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here