Those who have been diagnosed with hypertension will know that taking blood pressure readings can be both time-consuming and stressful.
If any of these concerns sound familiar, you will find value in this article. We will discuss:
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:
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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Weekly? Daily? 24/7? It can be hard to:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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