Conventional blood pressure measurement methodologies are being challenged by leading experts on hypertension and blood pressure measurement.
A more comprehensive approach to blood pressure measurement is being increasingly
recommended by leading hypertension specialists, experts on blood pressure, and respected medical societies, as a way to obtain both more accurate blood pressure assessment and positive patient outcomes.
When a patient visits the doctor, blood pressure is almost always measured by either the doctor or a nurse. As patients, we have all come to accept this as a routine and seemingly necessary component of any medical check-up. However, few realize the risks that come with the typical doctor’s office blood pressure measurement.
Concerns with single, doctor’s office blood pressure measurements
Recent studies have unearthed considerable concern regarding singular blood pressure measurements taken in the doctor’s office. More and more of these studies are pointing to the sizable possibility that many of these quick measurements fail, in fact, to accurately assess the patient’s true blood pressure. The reasons for potential inaccuracy include observer bias, blood pressure fluctuations, white-coat hypertension, masked hypertension, and others.
Leading hypertension specialists are well aware of the dangers of relying on a single doctor’s measurement to make a hypertension diagnosis and conduct assessments of treatment. As a result, they are now recommending a more comprehensive approach to patient blood pressure measurement, including making diagnosis and treatment decisions based on a combination of blood pressure measurements taken during office visits as well as outside the doctor’s office.
Adopting new recommendations prove difficult
Unfortunately, adopting such recommendations has proven difficult. In addition to the increasing number of measurements required to make a diagnosis, other factors compound the complexity of integrating multiple measurement protocols into daily practice.
Physicians have also expressed concerns over the reliability and validity of data provided by patients using their own home blood pressure measurement devices. Many consumers purchase devices that are either without validation or are uncalibrated, producing inaccurate and untrustworthy blood pressure data that is of little value to physicians. Furthermore, physicians have expressed concern over patients' general lack of knowledge with regards to proper blood pressure measurement technique, as well as concern with patients’ preoccupation with their own blood pressure and therefore providing falsified readings.
Better patient outcomes rely on accurate blood pressure measurements
These concerns are both numerous and valid. In addition studies are increasingly pointing to the dangers of diagnosis and treatment assessments made on single measurements taken in the doctor’s office. As an increasing number of patients at the doctor’s office exhibit blood pressures on the verge of hypertension and normotension, accurate diagnosis of the true status of the patient’s blood pressure will be critical to making accurate treatment decisions, ultimately influencing the outcomes of patients' health.