Basic cuffs are just as good as standard devices for checking blood pressure at home

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Scientists from UC San Francisco examined whether newer monitoring devices that pair with smartphones led to better management of high blood pressure than home-use blood pressure cuffs.

To their surprise, they found that the more sophisticated devices don’t lead to better blood pressure control.

Daily home readings paint a clearer picture of a patient’s blood pressure than those taken every few months at the doctor’s office.

Basic devices simply display blood pressure, while higher-end models connect via Bluetooth to smartphone apps that can provide data visualization, reminders and other features.

In the new study, researchers compared the effectiveness of the two device types in lowering blood pressure when used by patients from more than 20 medical centers around the country.

Researchers randomly mailed either a basic device or a popular Bluetooth-enabled device to more than 2,000 patients with high blood pressure, of whom approximately one-third identified as Black or Hispanic.

After six months, patients who received the basic cuff had lowered their blood pressure by 10.6 mmHg, and those who received the smartphone app had lowered their blood pressure by 10.8 mmHg, according to blood pressure measurements taken at doctors’ visits and recorded in electronic health records.

There was no difference in the improvements patients saw or in their satisfaction with the devices.

In patients of self-reported race and ethnicity, the study found that the newer technology did not outperform basic cuffs.

The findings allow doctors to confidently advise their patients to purchase and use whichever blood pressure monitoring device they like best.

Patients who prefer to save money or avoid the hassle of connecting a device will not limit their potential health benefits.

The research team is continuing to explore whether technology can help doctors engage patients to control their hypertension.

One area of particular focus is a smartwatch-style monitor that continuously tracks blood pressure with no action required of the wearer.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about how to lower blood pressure naturally, and eat these foods to control your blood pressure.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies that blood pressure swings could be an early sign of heart disease, and results showing beetroot may protect against high blood pressure.

The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine and conducted by Mark J. Pletcher et al.

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