Caring Currents

Don't Wait for a Doctor's Visit to Test for High Blood Pressure

Last updated: Jun 01, 2016

Bloodpressuremonitor2500801902 e1bbd20fe7 m.jpg

If your parents have high blood pressure, add a home monitor to their shopping list.  So suggests numerous high-powered and well-respected heart health organizations, including the American Heart Association and the American Society of Hypertension.   


(Hey, this might make a great Father’s Day gift, especially for a dad who appreciates practicality.)


Their announcement got lots of attention in blogdom and traditional news . The upshot:

  • Doctor’s office measurements can be misleading, either higher than usual, called the “white coat effect,” or lower.
  • Because blood pressure normally varies throughout the day, home testing makes it easier to get a generalized or Big Picture look at rates , versus the snapshot of an occasional doctor’s visit.
  • The immediate feedback of home testing can be a great incentive for patients, sending them out on a jog or away from the salt shaker.
  • The Heart Association provides detailed advice and cool tools on home testing.
  • Monitors cost $50 to $100, and are available on-line and at most drug stores. The group advises buying an automated model with an upper arm (not wrist) cuff.  A list of monitors meeting international standards is published by the British Hypertension Society .    


Feeling too techno-challenged to imagine hooking your parents up to a blood pressure machine, let alone encouraging them to monitor themselves? Don’t worry. Most monitors come with simple instructions and toll-free numbers with real-people help.


Parting comment: The American Heart Association discloses it gets funding from at least one manufacturer of home heart monitors. This has some questioning the recommendation, but the association stands by its policy of giving advice based on science, not bucks.


I mage by Flickr user by mr-t.-in-dc used under the Creative Commons Attribution-No-Derivus License.