My blood pressure measurements at home are always higher than at my doctor’s office. Am I doing something wrong?
Answers from Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.
“Blood pressure measurements that are higher at your home than at your doctor’s office could be caused by a decrease or increase in stress at your doctor’s office or an error in measuring your blood pressure at home.
The opposite, higher blood pressure at your doctor’s office than at your home, is often called white-coat fever. This means that the stress or anxiety of being in your doctor’s office causes your blood pressure to be higher than it normally is at home, where you feel more at ease.
Having lower blood pressure measurements at the doctor’s office than at home is called masked hypertension. Masked hypertension can occur if a calm, quiet environment at your doctor’s office is less stressful than the environment at home — leading to a lower blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office. Likewise, use of alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes at home can increase blood pressure.
Be sure that your home blood pressure monitor is accurate and that you’re using the correct technique. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor. He or she may ask you to bring the home blood pressure monitor to the office. You may measure your blood pressure in one arm with the home monitor while your doctor measures your blood pressure in the other arm with the office equipment.”
Find your real blood pressure. The measurement your doctor or nurse takes is just a just single frame from an ongoing movie. In some individuals, that snapshot tells the whole story, and is an excellent approximation of their usual blood pressure.
Improve your control. People who check their blood pressure at home tend to be more successful at keeping it under control. Timely feedback helps. Taking the measurements yourself also helps. People who actively participate in their care generally do better than those who take a hands-off, let-the-doctor-do-it approach.
Track your progress. You can’t feel your blood pressure get better — or worse. Measuring it at home offers vital information about whether your lifestyle changes and the medications you are taking are having their desired effects.
Save time and medications. Monitoring your blood pressure at home may mean fewer trips to the doctor’s office. If you have white-coat hypertension, it may also mean taking fewer, or no, blood pressure medicines.
Run with the right crowd. Of every 100 people with high blood pressure, 70 or more don’t have it under control. Checking your pressure at home and acting on the results can help you join the “in” crowd who do. A study shows that people who checked their blood pressure at home and e-mailed the results to a pharmacist who offered advice were far more likely to keep their pressure in check blood pressure in check. (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 25, 2008).
Key points to remember
- If you have high blood pressure, it’s a good idea to check your blood pressure at home.
- Use an automatic monitor with a cuff that fits around your arm and that keeps track of your readings.
- Check your blood pressure once in the morning and once in the evening for a week, then one or two days a month after that.
- Consumer Reports occasionally reviews home blood pressure monitors.
This Article was Approved by our Chief Research Scientist – Charles S Agricola R.Ph.
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Important Note and Disclaimer: The contents of this blog have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information conveyed herein is from sources deemed to be accurate and reliable, but no guarantee can be made in regards to the accuracy and reliability thereof. The author, Bill Stiber is a natural health journalist writing professionally about natural health topics. He is not a doctor. Therefore, nothing stated in this blog should be construed as prescriptive in nature, nor is any part of this blog meant to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Nothing reported herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author is simply reporting in journalistic fashion what he has learned during the past several years of journalistic research into healthcare, nutrition, exercise and natural health. Therefore, the information and data presented should be considered for informational purposes only, and approached with caution. Readers should verify for themselves, and to their own satisfaction, from other knowledgeable sources such as their doctor, the accuracy and reliability of all reports, ideas, conclusions, comments and opinions stated herein. All important health care decisions should be made under the guidance and direction of a legitimate, knowledgeable and experienced health care professional. Readers are solely responsible for their choices. The author and publisher disclaim responsibility or liability for any loss or hardship that may be incurred as a result of the use or application of any information included in this blog.