Caption: Exemplar blood pressure monitor (courtesy of www.ohgizmo.com)
A new study done by doctors at Ottawa Hospital is alerting people that their home blood pressure monitors may be inaccurate.
Guidelines typically recommend home blood pressure monitors to guide diagnosis and treatment of patients with hypertension. What the study concluded, however, is that many people know very little about the accuracy of the devices they use. To determine the devices’ accuracy, researchers compared measurements from home blood monitors with validated mercury sphygmomanometers (used in doctors’ offices). Comparing the data from 210 patients, investigators found that 63 of the home monitor systolic blood pressure readings had more than a 5mm Hg difference from the mercury systolic blood pressure measurement. An additional 16 units had more than 10mm Hg different. Diastolic blood pressures had proportions of 32% and 9%, respectively.
What does this mean? In short, it means that home blood pressure monitors that many people rely on may be inaccurate in 5% to 15% of patients. The only solution that the study suggests is validating the machines with health care providers at least once. If you or a loved one uses a home blood pressure monitor, do not delay in getting it checked out by your healthcare provider. Doing so could reduce the likelihood of inaccuracy.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 67 million American adults have high blood pressure. That is 1 in every 3 adults. Using faulty machines that give inaccurate blood pressure readings could be deadly to these people.