Home monitoring of blood pressure has gained respect in recent years, Powers said. About 43 percent of people with high blood pressure use home monitors, according to background information in the study. Powers and his colleagues said their results support recent calls for reimbursement of home blood pressure monitoring.
"I think patients should expect their doctors to make decisions based on home blood pressure [in addition to other measures]," he said.
Those who buy a home blood pressure monitor should get it validated for accuracy at their doctor's office, Powers added.
Patients should be advised to measure their blood pressure at different times of the day, and to sit and relax for five minutes before taking it, Powers explained. Variations are to be expected, he noted.
According to Dr. Joseph Diamond, director of nuclear cardiology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Hyde Park, N.Y., blood pressure readings are perhaps "the most frequent assessment that results in a change of medical therapy."
Even so, the procedure is frequently flawed because of poor measurement technique or insufficient measurements, he said.
"This study confirms the need to improve both measurement technique and the number of measurements obtained so that a therapeutic decision to start or change medication is based on more accurate information," said Diamond.
Writing in an accompanying editorial of the journal, Dr. Lawrence J. Appel and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University said the findings point to a need for regulation of blood pressure screening. "It is time to get serious about BP measurement," they wrote.
To learn more about home blood pressure monitoring, visit the British Hypertension Society.
SOURCES: Benjamin J. Powers, M.D.,
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