Should you worry about blood pressure that’s high from time to time?

A single blood pressure reading, like the one taken in your doctor’s office, is merely a snapshot from a continuously playing 24-hour movie. For some people, that one measurement is a good summary of the movie. For others, it’s a poor reflection of their usual blood pressure.

As many as 20% of Americans have different blood pressure at home than they do in the doctor’s office. Some have white-coat hypertension—high blood pressure in the doctor’s office but normal pressure at home. Others have masked hypertension—normal blood pressure in the doctor’s office but periods of high pressure at home, such as during episodes of stress or early in the morning when the effects of blood pressure medicine have worn off.

Some doctors shrug off these two conditions, while others take them seriously. Contradictory data have long supported both approaches. Now, a long-term study from Italy raises concerns that both of these situations deserve more attention.

Blood pressure categories
Systolic Diastolic
Normal (optimal) less than 120 and less than 80
Prehypertension 120 – 139 or 80 – 89
Hypertension 140 or higher or 90 or higher

The Italian study

In the early 1990s, several thousand residents of the northern Italian town of Monza agreed to take part in a study. People in the study:

  • had their blood pressure carefully measured in a doctor’s office
  • wore a device that recorded their blood pressure every 20 minutes for 24 hours
  • measured their blood pressure at home in the morning and evening on several days.

These measurements showed that 16.1% of the volunteers had white-coat hypertension, 8.9% had masked hypertension, and 20.9% had sustained high blood pressure.

Ten years later, more than 1,400 of the volunteers repeated the process. During that period, 47% of those with masked hypertension and 43% of those with white-coat hypertension had gone on to develop sustained high blood pressure, compared with just 18% of those whose pressures were initially normal.

Do this at home

This important study underscores what we have been saying for years: it’s a good idea to check your blood pressure at home, and not just rely on the measurements made in your doctor’s office.

Home blood pressure monitors are easy to use and inexpensive (some cost under $50 and may even be covered by your insurance if you get a doctor’s prescription for it). The British Hypertension Society lists machines they recommend on their Web site: http://www.bhsoc.org/blood_pressure_list.stm.

Measure your blood pressure in the morning before you take your blood pressure pills or have breakfast, and again in the evening, every day for a week. Write down the numbers, along with the heart rate the monitor records, and bring them to your doctor. After that, follow the plan your doctor recommends.

White-coat and masked hypertension suggest that your blood pressure is more jumpy than normal. This hyper-responsiveness could gradually nudge you toward sustained hypertension. If your blood pressure is sometimes high, doing what you can to keep it in check is a big step toward preventing heart attack, heart failure, and the most common kind of stroke.

Steps include:

  • exercising
  • losing weight if you need to
  • eating a healthy diet
  • quitting smoking.

Published by: davidgerting

I'm 32, I live in Westminster Md. For the longest time I struggle to figure out what I want to do for a living. Until I realize for the last 4 or so years, everything I love doing was about health and fitness so about 2 years ago. I decided to go to school for exercise science I got my A.A degree then I processed to study for the National Academy sports medicine (NASM) exam after I pass I started my journey to try different workouts and different meal plans I even start my education trying to became a dietitian hopefully I'll be a RD in the next 2 years through out the day I strive to learn as much as I can. Now I can honestly say, I can help anyone the wants to lose weight gain muscle or just over all want to be more healthier.

Categories Body's over all health functions improvement tips and Facts, Chronic Health conditions and physical or Functional Limitations Tips and FactsLeave a comment

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