January 31, 2017
High Blood Pressure Diagnosis Inaccurate at Least 50% of the Time
SALT LAKE COUNTY—Most
patients visiting their local clinic are unaware there’s a 50% chance their
blood pressure measurement is inaccurate. Today, the Utah Million Hearts
Coalition introduced a new website to help patients and providers alike: CheckMyPressure.org offers information
and tools to help patients understand why accurate blood pressure assessment is
so critical and how they can help ensure blood pressure measurement is accurate.
A 2016 study from
the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that in-office blood pressure
measurements were inaccurate more often than not, either causing the
misdiagnosis of hypertension (resulting in the inappropriate administration of
medication) or causing patients at-risk for stroke and heart problems to go
without necessary intervention or treatment.
“Patients need to
take their health into their own hands,” said Anni McKinnon, Utah Million
Hearts Coalition member. “Learn how blood pressure should be measured. Speak up
when your blood pressure is not taken correctly and help your provider get an
accurate measurement and, subsequently, an accurate diagnosis.”
Patients can take the
following steps to help ensure a correct blood pressure measurement:
- Thirty minutes prior to taking your blood pressure, do not drink
caffeine or alcohol, use tobacco products, exercise or feel stressed, or
- Sit and relax for five minutes before taking your blood pressure.
- Sit up straight with both feet flat on the floor and your back
- The cuff should be the proper size and placed on your bare arm or over thin
- Your arm should be at heart level and supported.
- If your reading is high, your blood pressure should be taken two more
times, waiting one minute between readings.
Even when blood
pressure measuring techniques are correct, some patients experience a
“white-coat effect” and exhibit high blood pressure in-office.
“About 30% of patients with elevated in-office
blood pressure turn out to have normal out-of-office measurements,” continued
McKinnon, “so home monitoring is also important in some cases.”
Health officials remind patients that they can also
help control their risks for cardiovascular disease by managing their weight,
engaging in regular physical activity, controlling blood pressure and
cholesterol, and not using tobacco products.
CheckMyPressure.org also includes tips for health
care providers on how to correctly measure blood pressure.
In 2016, the Utah Million Hearts Coalition
recognized 13 Utah medical clinics for their commitment to achieving excellence
in blood pressure measurement and hypertension control.
The Utah Million Hearts Coalition is a community
collaboration among Utah’s public health departments, local health care
organizations, professional medical associations, and health-related nonprofit
organizations. For more information about the coalition, visit healthinsight.org/bloodpressure