AHA recommends home blood pressure kits

DALLAS Hold on to your cuffs. Sales of blood pressure monitors may soon spike. The American Heart Association on Thursday advocated that people with hypertension should routinely monitor their blood pressure at home to help manage the disease, as part of a joint scientific statement from AHA, American Society of Hypertension and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses’ Association.

“High blood pressure is notoriously difficult to treat to goal—many patients fail to reach target levels despite treatment, and studies show home monitoring can help,” stated Thomas Pickering, chair of the statement writing group. “Blood pressure measurement and tracking could be improved with home monitoring by the patients themselves, in much the way people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels with home glucose monitors.”

He said there is strong evidence that the traditional way of measuring blood pressure in adults can be misleading. Studies indicate that between 10 percent and 20 percent of people diagnosed with high blood pressure in the doctor’s office actually have the ‘white coat effect,’ meaning that their pressures are normal under other conditions, but rise in the medical setting.

“It is also believed that some people with normal blood pressures in their doctors’ offices have pressures that spike to potentially dangerous levels in other situations,” Pickering said.

According to the statement, home monitoring is particularly useful in the elderly, in whom both blood pressure variability and the white coat effect are increased, as well as in patients with diabetes, patients with kidney disease and in pregnant women.

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