Latest High Blood Pressure News
Today let’s focus on what’s new in the world of Hypertension Treatments.
As the technology for monitoring blood pressure improves, the first thing I came across related to this which I found interesting was this headline in the Washington Post:
“Better technology shows that too many people are treated for high blood pressure”
There is no doubt that the growth in the use of home-based portable blood pressure monitors has done much to improve the accuracy of blood pressure readings, as opposed to the old fashioned in-Office sphygmomanometer, which has been around since the 1890s by the way.
It is commonly accepted by Professionals these days that a more accurate picture of a person’s blood pressure may be obtained by taking several readings over the course of a period of time and averaging them out.
This helps eliminate the routinely false readings obtained at the Doctor’s Office due to the so-called “White Coat” syndrome caused by anxiety when seeing the Doctor.
About 20 percent of patients who are consistently hypertensive in their doctor’s office or
clinic don’t have high blood pressure the rest of the day
In the past this has led to an over-diagnosis of high blood pressure cases and patients being started on medication treatment regimens when they probably didn’t need to be on them in the first place!
But recently the accuracy of home-based blood pressure readings has also been called into question for a completely different reason. Since the patient is in control of taking the readings, a human nature factor can easily creep in.
This refers to the objectivity of the results. After all, unless you are being completely honest, who wouldn’t be tempted to round down readings to make them seem more acceptable, or even leave out the occasional higher ones??
As a result a smaller percentage of patients who should be treated for hypertension are being missed.
Now Meet the ABPMs
Say what? I can hear you asking… What exactly are ABPMs???
This is one of the latest developments in accurate and reliable Blood Pressure monitoring. And it also addresses a factor of blood pressure which has till recently been largely overlooked – sleep-time blood pressure… but more about this later.
ABPM stands for AMBULATORY BLOOD PRESSURE MONITOR! These ABPM units are a new way for Doctor’s to measure a patient’s blood pressure throughout the course of a 24 hr period. Or longer if necessary.
These monitors employ a small digital blood pressure machine which is connected to a cuff around the upper arm that patients can wear while going about their normal daily and nightly routines.
This is a great step forward because it accurately tracks the natural and ongoing fluctuations of a patient’s blood pressure over the 24 hour period. This then gives a much clearer picture of exactly what is happening, and thus a truer reflection of whether the patient has a blood pressure health concern, or not!
Sleep-time Blood Pressure
Most people’s blood pressure tends to dip during their sleeping hours. However there are some people whose BP is for some reason resistant to this dip. An ABPM will record this and thereby provide important information to the Doctor. This is very significant since there is how evidence coming forward that hypertension during the sleeping hours is a more predictable factor in the development of cardiovascular disease.
The study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that
… the decreased CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) risk associated with progressively reducing the asleep BP mean suggests the need to use ABPM for the routine evaluation of treatment efficacy and proper definition of BP control.
Blood pressure drops greatly during sleep, and unlike blood pressure during the waking hours, it is largely unaffected by outside factors when uninterrupted. Thus its measurement can be seen to be a more reliable marker of possible health issues related to hypertension.
Can I buy an ABPM?
I anticipate some of you are wondering if these new BP monitors are available yet on the marketplace. Right now there is very minimal choice (on Amazon) and all but one model are still very expensive (around $1500 mark).
The cheapest one is the CONTEC Abpm50 Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor with Cd Software (on sale for $185.00 right now).
Consequently, I would hesitate to recommend it! Rather I would wait for now, as I believe the technology and quality will improve in the near future. In addition it is very likely the prices will fall making the newer and more reliable devices coming on to the market much more affordable.
Imagine owning a BP monitoring device which will take all guesswork out of determining your BP status once and for all!!
I enjoyed looking into one of the latest innovations in the world of blood pressure monitoring, and I hope it was of interest to anyone reading this post. Please let me know what you think about the potential of this technology in the comment section below.