Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Wearable, Doc-Prescribed Monitors May Help Spot High Blood Pressure


Wearing device for a day gives more accurate info than single in-office reading, study says

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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People suspected of having high blood pressure may soon be asked to wear what's known as an "ambulatory" blood pressure monitor for a day or so to confirm the diagnosis, according to draft recommendations issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring involves a blood pressure cuff worn constantly around the upper arm, and an attached monitoring device. The cuff automatically inflates at regular intervals, providing a more complete picture of how blood pressure fluctuates. The data is stored in the device and later downloaded, explained Margaret Piper, a senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

Patients are also asked to keep a diary of their activity during the day, and doctors use data from the monitor and the diary to weigh whether a person truly has high blood pressure.

The data gathered by wearing a monitor throughout a person's daily routine was up to 40 percent better at predicting future heart attacks, strokes and heart disease than individual blood pressure checks done in a doctor's office, said Piper. Piper is also the lead author of the evidence review.

"We found that the ambulatory blood pressure monitoring did a better job of predicting future events, and it's more accurate at predicting the population of patients who would benefit from treatment," Piper said.

The review was published online Dec. 22 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

A second study in the same issue of the journal found that people with even mild high blood pressure benefit from taking blood pressure-lowering medicine.

Both studies are important, given that deaths from high blood pressure increased almost 40 percent between 2001 and 2011, said Dr. Elliott Antman, an associate dean of clinical and translational research at Harvard Medical School and president of the American Heart Association.

"About a third of adults in the United States have high blood pressure," said Antman, who was not involved with the study. "We need to get on top of this now."

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