Your Blood Pressure Monitor Could Be Wrong
You may not be able to rely on the readings you get from your home blood pressure monitor. After testing dozens of these devices, Canadian researchers reported that readings were off by 5 millimeters (mm) of mercury 70 percent of the time and that the home monitors were off by 10 mm of mercury 30 percent of the time. The researchers from the University of Alberta compared results from the home monitors of 85 patients with those obtained when two trained observers took several blood pressure measurements at the same time, blinded to one another. A third person verified both observers’ readings. The researchers suggested that factors such as a patient’s arm shape and size, the stiffness and age of blood vessels and the type of cuff used are not always taken into consideration when a home blood pressure monitor is being designed and validated. They added that the size, age and medical background of the person using the monitor could also contribute to inaccurate readings. The study team advised checking the accuracy of home monitors by comparing results with a blood pressure measurement in your doctor’s office or clinic.
My take? In consideration of these new findings about the accuracy of home blood pressure monitors, it might be prudent to take yours with you to your next doctor’s visit to compare results. If you have high blood pressure, frequent monitoring at home gives doctors a more realistic idea of the range of your blood pressure and shows more clearly how it is responding to medication that has been prescribed. More frequent monitoring than is possible with visits to doctors’ offices also facilitates fine tuning of drug dosages and demonstrates the effects of lifestyle measures such as weight loss, exercise, and limiting salt intake.
Jennifer S. Ringrose et al “An Assessment of the Accuracy of Home Blood Pressure Monitors When Used in Device Owners.” American Journal of Hypertension, April 19, 2017, DOI: 10.1093/ajh/hpx041
Also in this week’s bulletin:
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