Why Frequent Blood Pressure Monitoring Is Important
Those who have been diagnosed with hypertension will know that taking blood pressure readings can be both time-consuming and stressful.
- “What if my blood pressure has gone up again?”
- “Hmm, 165/100… is this measurement accurate?”
- “Is anxiety causing the reading to be higher than normal?”
If any of these concerns sound familiar, you will find value in this article. We will discuss:
- Why blood pressure monitoring is important (and how often high blood pressure should be checked to stay safe)
- The seven main flaws of standard methods to measure blood pressure
- A more convenient way to monitor blood pressure that gives you and your physician the necessary data
Tell me, why is blood pressure monitoring so important?
The latest data points to a big problem. Globally, 1.4 billion people have hypertension. That’s 1 in 5 adults worldwide.
As you may know, uncontrolled high blood pressure is the number one cause of heart attacks and strokes around the world. 50,000 people die per day because of it. And, yet, it seems many people are in the dark about the extent of their blood pressure issues:
- 50% are not aware that they have hypertension
- 50% of those with a diagnosis do not have their blood pressure under control
Despite encouraging progress in cardiovascular medicine, blood pressure control rates are extremely low:
“Hypertension is the single largest preventable risk factor for death, and despite many options for treatment and measurement, is still poorly treated: only 20% of hypertensive people worldwide have their BP under control.”
— Dr Jay Shah, Chief Medical Officer at Aktiia, Cardiology and Aortic Diseases at Mayo Clinic
We can all agree that, without the right diagnosis, it’s impossible to access the right treatment. This is why blood pressure monitoring is so important. It’s clear that people with hypertension need more frequent, thorough blood pressure tracking than has been typical until now.
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How often should high blood pressure be checked?
Weekly? Daily? 24/7? It can be hard to:
- Know how often you should check your blood pressure, and
- Remember to take readings at the correct times
These common challenges can lead to those with hypertension checking their blood pressure too infrequently.
You can get tested at GP surgeries and pharmacies. However, if you’ve already been diagnosed and your doctor recommends that you take more regular readings, then you may need to get your own blood pressure monitor.
This is where the process can soon get confusing for people, though. How often should you take a new reading?
The truth is, it depends. Somebody with a reading of 160/100mmHg has a higher risk of a cardiac emergency than somebody with a reading of 140/90mmHg. It’s best to clarify with your doctor what the sensible frequency of measurement is for you.
Here’s an example of what a typical blood pressure monitoring routine could look like, as outlined by Blood Pressure UK:
- For the first week, measure your blood pressure three times in the morning (spaced apart by 1-2 minutes). Record all the readings.
- Keep in mind that the first reading may not be accurate.
- Follow the same process every evening.
- After a week, you’ll be able to calculate your average blood pressure levels.
- You may then be able to reduce the number of measurements to weekly or less often. Make sure to speak with your doctor about this.
- If you are given a new medication or your dose of existing medication changes, it is sensible to monitor your blood pressure more often again.
Even measuring your blood pressure more than once a day following the process above has potential for error, though:
|GP Practice||Home BPM (Cuffs)|
|FREQUENCY||1+ times a year||1+ times a day/week|
Let’s explore the main factors that can lead to flawed measurements.
Avoid these 7 measuring errors that cause false blood pressure readings
The questionable accuracy of blood pressure readings is a valid concern — both for those who have to manage hypertension and their medical practitioners. As Dr. Hiremath explains in a Harvard Health article:
“Home blood pressure monitors may be inaccurate in 5% to 15% of patients, depending on the threshold for accuracy used.”
In the table below, you will find seven of the main factors that can lead to false readings:
|You were too active before the measurement||It’s recommended to rest in a seated position for five minutes before a blood pressure reading. Many people do not have time to wait that long or forget to do so.|
|Your clothing is in the way||Placing the blood pressure cuff on top of clothing (even a thin shirt or blouse) can lead to a faulty measurement.|
|Your blood pressure cuff is too tight or not tight enough||This is a common problem. If your cuff is too loose, it may cause a lower blood pressure reading than is accurate. On the flip side, a cuff that is too tight may cause a higher blood pressure reading than is accurate.|
|You are distracted||Even engaging in a calm conversation can cause blood pressure to increase. If you live with others, it can be hard to avoid distractions when taking blood pressure readings at home.|
|Your emotional state changes||Being in a stressed or anxious state can cause blood pressure levels to rise. Often, people experience a slight increase in stress when they measure their blood pressure.|
|You feel hot or cold||Your body temperature fluctuates by 0.5-1 °C throughout the day. Blood pressure levels may be higher when you feel cold and lower when you are in a warm environment.|
|You need to urinate||Blood pressure levels can be higher than normal when your bladder is full.|
As you can see, the potential for error is significant. This soon becomes problematic. Here’s why:
Doctors who use their patients’ home readings to prescribe treatments may not have enough data to base their decisions on. As a result, patients may be given a blood pressure medication that is either too strong or not strong enough for what they need.
24/7, hassle-free blood pressure monitoring — is it possible?
Twenty years ago, no, this was not possible. But technology has since evolved. Those with diagnosed or suspected hypertension are turning to more robust and practical methods of monitoring their blood pressure.
People who need to measure their blood pressure have been calling for a device that is:
- Automated — tracks blood pressure automatically rather than having to take manual readings several times per day
- Convenient — is easy to wear, transport, and maintain
- Reliable — provides accurate readings that give peace of mind and allows their doctor to adjust treatment where necessary
Such a device is now available for the first time with Aktiia.
|GP Practice||Home BPM (Cuffs)||Aktiia|
|FREQUENCY||1+ times a year||1+ times a day/week||12+ times a day|
It is a wearable bracelet that is clinically validated to monitor your blood pressure throughout the day and the night.
Comprehensive research proves that nighttime blood pressure offers a more reliable measurement of cardiovascular risk than daytime readings.
With 24/7 monitoring, both patients and their physicians can track blood pressure patterns over time, in fine detail, to ensure the prescribed treatment is correct.
As Dr. Jay Shah, Chief Medical Officer at Aktiia — explains:
“Traditional cuffs are cumbersome and only display BP at one point in time, whereas the risk of BP is only demonstrated over time. We need a comfortable, easy, practical solution to deliver continual BP data from patients to providers over the long term, which is exactly the purpose and philosophy of Aktiia.”
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions related to a medical condition. The author and publisher are not liable for any harm or damage resulting from the use or misuse of the information in this article.
Should a systolic blood pressure target below 130 become the universal standard? June, 2019 – https://www.researchgate.net/pub-lication-330364192
Hypertension is the epidemic of our time, December 9, 2020 – https://aktiia.com/uk/evidence
How to measure your blood pressure at home, April, 2017 – https://www.bloodpressureuk.org/how-to-measure-your-blood-pressure-at-home
Some home blood pressure monitors aren’t accurate, September 16, 2019 – https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog-home-blood-pressure-monitors-arent-accurate
Get Serious About Your Cardiovascular Health, December 24, 2020 – https://aktiia.com/uk/insights