A lot of people today are purchasing their own blood pressure monitors to check their pressure at home. Now, there's new information on the accuracy of those home monitors.
First, the good news. A study in this month's Journal of the American Medical Association finds that home blood pressure devices may actually give better results for patients than the readings they get at the doctor's office. A big reason is what's called the "white coat symdrome", which describes the anxiety some patients feel when they go to the doctor. They're annxious, so their blood pressure goes up.
While at home, you can get an accurate reading when you're more relaxed. The bad news is... life isn't always relaxed, so you need regular checks from your doctor to understand what could be your blood pressure range. And not every home monitor is high quality.
"You don't want to only take your blood pressure when you are home relaxing with your feet up watching your favorite TV show, because your goal is not to find your lowest blood pressure, your goal is to find your highest blood pressure," says Dr. Patricia Davidson, cardiodlogist. "I insist that the patient bring their monitors in several times a year, so that I can check it against the blood pressure mercury, that is still considered the gold standard."
Dr. Davidson recommends that you stay away from the blood pressure monitors at the drugstore or grocery store because they may not be checked regularly. Instead, she says talk to your doctor before you buy your own monitor. Check the quality of your purchase. Some of them are tested by consumer groups and magazines, and check your machine with your doctor every few months to make sure the readings are accurate.
She also says it's better to invest in a high quality blood pressure monitor, instead of several less expensive models that may not work as well.
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