Blood pressure readings jump around between your doctor visits, study finds

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Do you think your blood pressure stays the same all the time? Think again.

A recent study led by Yuan Lu, a teacher at Yale School of Medicine, says that your blood pressure can swing back and forth like a seesaw.

Almost half of American adults have high blood pressure, which is dangerous for your heart, kidneys, and even your memory. But what’s even more surprising is that only 1 in 4 people have it under control.

Why Office Visits Aren’t Enough

You might think one trip to the doctor’s office can tell you all you need to know about your blood pressure. But that’s not the case.

The study shows that the numbers you get at the doctor’s office might not be accurate. Even if you’re taking medication to lower it, the readings can bounce around a lot between visits.

Lu and her team looked at a whopping 7.7 million blood pressure readings from over 537,000 adults. They found that sometimes blood pressure changed by as much as 12 mmHg between visits.

People taking medication didn’t always see the drop in blood pressure they expected either. About 37% of the time, their blood pressure didn’t lower as much as they hoped. Sometimes it didn’t drop at all!

These fluctuations make it tough for doctors to know if the medication is working. So, it’s not enough to just rely on those occasional check-ups.

Checking at Home: A Smarter Way to Monitor

Experts like the American Heart Association say it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your blood pressure at home. But according to Lu, most people aren’t doing this.

They rely solely on what they learn during their doctor’s visits. That’s not the best approach, warns Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

He says that readings at the doctor’s office can be higher than those taken at home because you might be nervous or the equipment might not fit right.

So how can you check your blood pressure at home? You’ll need an automated upper-arm cuff that fits your arm. The American Medical Association can help you pick the right one.

Make sure to avoid exercise, smoking, and caffeine for at least 30 minutes before you measure. And always take your reading after you’ve sat quietly for a bit and made sure your arm is at heart level.

Lu understands that not everyone can afford a home blood pressure monitor. But you can still keep an eye on it by using machines at health clinics or local pharmacies.

Keeping an Eye on the Swings

Blood pressure is like a swing, going up and down. If you really want to control it, you have to monitor those swings closely. One reading at the clinic doesn’t give you the full picture.

You need to check regularly, and not just at the doctor’s office. Only then can you and your doctor figure out the best treatment for you.

So remember, managing your blood pressure is not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing dance, and to get it right, you need to keep an eye on the rhythm.

For those interested in learning more, you can read other studies about how diet and even gum disease can impact your blood pressure. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health.

The full study by Yuan Lu and her team was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about a common and unrecognized cause of high blood pressure, and this small habit can greatly benefit people with high blood pressure, cholesterol.

For more information about high blood pressure, please see recent studies about more efficient way to treat high blood pressure, and 12 foods that lower blood pressure.

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