Support Icon

Blog @ SunTech

Advice from the BP Measurement Experts

3 Ways to Better Care for Senior Animals

 

 

Woman with pet dogs

As beloved pets age, it can be difficult to know how their health care needs to change so we will be discussing 3 ways to better care for senior animals. After all, your cat or dog can’t tell you what he or she is feeling. To stay on top their health into old age, it is important to adjust their veterinary care as needed, including going to the vet more often. Here are a few tips for ensuring that your furry friend receives top notch senior health care.

 

Continue reading
192 Hits

New Advice on What Constitutes High Blood Pressure

 

Man frustrated with home BP device

Blood Pressure experts offer new advice based on a recent study conducted by the ACP/AAFP, which shows that the threshold for hypertension in healthy patients may not be as low as what the SPRINT study of 2015 concluded.

 

Continue reading
635 Hits

Home Blood Pressure Devices Wrong 70% Of The Time

 

Man frustrated with home BP device

A recent study published in the American Journal of Hypertension shows the majority of blood pressure devices sold and used in people’s homes are potentially inaccurate as much as 70% of the time. Since lots of people measure their blood pressure at home to track their cardiovascular health, this study is understandably noteworthy. But what else can we learn from it?

 


 

You Get What You Pay For

First, let’s talk a little bit about oscillometry. Oscillometry is the general method that most automatic blood pressure devices use to measure blood pressure. This is true for devices in the home, in doctor’s offices, and even in hospitals. As the study pointed out, while the oscillometric method is commonplace, there are differences between devices from different manufacturers because of the mathematical formulas and algorithms used to calculate systolic and diastolic blood pressure values. The math is proprietary, and most private companies that have their own oscillometric technology—including SunTech—guard those calculations very closely.

Why? Well, the simple answer is that the math behind better-performing technologies is based on actual clinical research conducted over long periods of time—in SunTech’s case, decades. This research, and the analysis of the resulting data, is a significant and expensive undertaking that can provide an important commercial advantage when it comes to a device’s clinical accuracy. So if companies had to share their data with the rest of the world, what would be the incentive to conduct all of that research in the first place? So, proprietary data can result in devices with better clinical performance, which is better for physicians and patients. I say ‘can’ because it’s no guarantee, as this study clearly illustrates.

 

If the Cuff Fits...

One other fact about this study merits some additional digital copy. The authors discuss several potential reasons for the reported inaccuracy of almost 70% of the home blood pressure devices analyzed. But there is one that the authors mention briefly that could actually explain a lot. And that’s the blood pressure cuff itself. Now, it’s pretty common for folks to call the entire device—digital box, hose, and fabric that wraps around the arm and inflates--a ‘BP cuff’. But what I’m talking about is just the part that goes on the arm. That’s the actual blood pressure cuff.

Blood pressure cuff sizes are incredibly important for any oscillometric blood pressure device. The math behind these devices assumes that the correctly sized cuff will be used on the patient. See, because of the physics around how non-invasive blood pressure is measured, there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ blood pressure cuff. To be accurate, the cuff must be sized correctly according the circumference of the patient’s upper arm, for a variety of reasons. The researchers in this study reported that the mean arm circumference of study participants was a bit less than 33cm, and that increasing arm circumference was a statistically significant predictor of an inaccurate measurement.

Now, 33cm is on the high side for most standard, adult-sized blood pressure cuffs. Since home blood pressure devices typically include only a single cuff, manufacturers generally pick a very middle-of-the-road size for the cuff, hoping that it will cover the majority of arm sizes. But in the case of this study, the mean arm circumference is already pushing the upper limit of a middle-of-the-road adult cuff. So it should come as no surprise that as arm circumference increases, accuracy suffers. The researchers didn’t publish any data on the sizes of the BP cuffs that were used with the home BP devices, and I think that would have been helpful.

But the point here is that that size matters when it comes to BP cuffs and oscillometric devices. It matters a lot. It might even matter more than the math inside the device—although that matters too. So if you find yourself in need of a home blood pressure device, the first thing that you need to do is make sure that the cuff that comes with it is the right fit for your arm. Your doctor can help you figure this out if you bring it with you to the doctor’s office. If the cuff isn’t the right size, contact the manufacturer and see if they have a cuff that is.

In fact, even when you are having your blood pressure measured in a doctor’s office, it’s not a bad idea to ask the clinician taking your BP to double-check the sizing of the cuff to your arm, as other studies have shown that using the incorrectly sized cuff in clinical settings is commonplace as well.

 

Maybe We’re Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

While data that points to inaccuracies with home blood pressure devices is important, for professionals in the medical world, it’s not exactly news. And while asking how to make home BP devices better is fine, we should also be asking if there are more accurate alternatives to home BP. And the answer is yes. 24-hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) is widely considered to be the gold standard for assessing a patient’s blood pressure.

Unfortunately, the reimbursement for ABPM in the United States is currently quite low, and only valid for diagnosing white coat hypertension. In other countries, like the U.K., ABPM is becoming recognized as an important tool for treating general hypertension, and is therefore being treated as such by government and private payers.

At SunTech, our goal is to continue to evolve our Oscar 2 ABPM devices to make them more patient friendly, and allow them to deliver more valuable clinical data, so that clinicians can make better diagnoses and treatments. It doesn’t happen overnight, but we’ll get there.

876 Hits

3 Symptoms of Untreated Hypertension in Dogs

 

Dog with Vet

Just like humans, dogs can have hypertension, which is higher than normal blood pressure. The best way to prevent hypertension in your pet is through a healthy diet and exercise. The risk of high blood pressure increases as the animal ages. One study found that up to 10% of dogs may suffer from high blood pressure1!

 

Continue reading
459 Hits

What is Hypertension?

 

3D Simulation of the Hardening of a Blood Vessel

As I mentioned in my previous post, Hypertension or high blood pressure means a systolic pressure of 140 or higher and a diastolic pressure of 90 or higher. If left untreated, the time from hypertension onset to death is approximately 20 years. Occurring silently, painlessly and without warning, many do not know they have the disease until they experience its inevitable organ-damaging effects. Once organ failure begins, hypertension is already in its final stages and the patient can expect only a few years to live unless aggressive disease management is undertaken.

 

Continue reading
1147 Hits

What is Blood Pressure?

 

Picture of a Patient having their blood pressure checked by a Doctor

Blood Pressure Basics

Taking a patient’s blood pressure has become a routine practice for medical staff. Unfortunately, training in this area is often met with a very high-level overview and is sometimes neglected in regards to the overall mechanics of manual or automated methods in accurate blood pressure measurement techniques.

 

Continue reading
958 Hits

8 Ways ABPM Is a Lifesaver

 

Picture of a ABPM Patient with Doctor

Research has proven that ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) is the best way to determine true blood pressure available to physicians today. Results from an ABPM device will always 1 provide a level of insight unavailable with other forms of blood pressure measurement. However, there are eight situations in which ABPM is especially useful in providing accurate readings to properly diagnose hypertension.

 

Continue reading
1191 Hits

The Challenges of Veterinary Care in an Animal Shelter

 

Picture of a Dog behind a fence at a shelter

This past week my colleague, Jacinta McGlone, and I visited the Wake County SPCA located in Raleigh, NC. While there, we spoke with Staff Veterinarian Dr. Anna Boswell and Medical Assistant Allison Baker at the shelter. These ladies provided us valuable information on their ongoing battle to save countless animals' lives.

Continue reading
1082 Hits

How to Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday for Your Pet [InfoGraphic]

 

Female with a Pet Dog during the Holidays

For many of us, the holiday season means changes to our home; including packages with ribbons and bows, lit candles, new plants & decorations and large gatherings of people. Remember to consider the impact on the four-legged and furry members of your family. With that in mind, we have created a resource that is designed to ensure your pets have a safe and happy holiday season. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Continue reading
1116 Hits

5 Factors That Can Affect Your Pet’s Blood Pressure Readings

Female Vet with Cat

A blood pressure check is one of the first procedures done when you go to the doctor. So it should be no surprise that your veterinarian will likely check your pet’s blood pressure, too!

It is becoming more and more common for vets to regularly check blood pressure at every checkup. However, many pet owners do not realize that their pet’s blood pressure is constantly changing in response to many factors. Being aware of these factors and ensuring that your pet is comfortable in its environment will help the vet to get the most accurate blood pressure reading. Here is a list of 5 factors that may cause significant changes in your pet’s blood pressure:

Continue reading
3507 Hits

Why Should I Use ABPM?

Friends walking in a park

 

Diagnosing and treating hypertension is serious business, and as research shows, ABPM is far superior to other testing available to clinicians. ABPM provides valuable diagnostic information that in-clinic and home blood pressure monitoring systems are incapable of measuring including:

  • BP variability and a more accurate estimation of true blood pressure
  • Overnight changes in blood pressure (dipper status)
  • Morning surges in blood pressure

 

Continue reading
3732 Hits

10 Ways to Reduce Your Blood Pressure without Medication

Dr pointing to a chalkboard with the text that reads Healthy Living

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 70 million American adults have high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 adults. More alarming is that only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.

With those overwhelming numbers, it goes without saying that raising awareness about how to reduce hypertension – with or without medication – is critical.

Continue reading
3301 Hits

NIH Ends Sprint Study Early Stating Lower Blood Pressure Is Better

Heart Icon with an arrow leaning towards the high blood pressure side

How Low Should Blood Pressure Go?

When it comes to blood pressure guidelines, it’s a question cardiologists have puzzled over for years – just how low should blood pressure go? Well, according to articles released by nearly every major news outlet, including The New York Times, US News & World Report, FOX News and NBC News, federal health officials have declared they have “potentially lifesaving information” as a result of a recent major study – one that they are ending a year early because it has already conclusively answered this question.

Continue reading
4146 Hits

SunTech Vet20 “How To” Videos Have Arrived!

 

Dogs in a Box marked Fragile

Taking a blood pressure on a companion animal is very different than what you experience at the doctor’s office. You can’t tell a dog or cat to sit still and be quiet throughout the entire blood pressure measurement and actually expect it to happen. It’s more similar to trying to take an infant’s BP, except these wiggly patients have fur!

Continue reading
3432 Hits

Letting the Dust Settle on New Hypertension Guidelines

Female Nurse Drawing Heartline

The April 2015 edition of Cardiology Today includes an interesting article – “New Hypertension Recommendations Anticipated in 2016” - stating that the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), in collaboration with nine other medical societies, will be releasing new hypertension guidelines that will serve as an update to those released by the Seventh Joint National Committee (JNC 7) in 2003.

But, wait…weren’t updated guidelines already published back in 2013? As a matter of fact, they were!

Continue reading
2341 Hits

5 Tips for Preparing for a Cardiac Stress Test

For accuracy purposes, some diagnostic tests require a little preparation on your part. So, what do you need to do before you have a cardiac stress test? According to a recent publication by the Heart and Vascular Team at the Cleveland Clinic, the following tips are good to know before you step on the treadmill:

Continue reading
19401 Hits

Training Day — How to Measure Blood Pressure

Cartoon of a young male nurse pointing to a play button

No clinician would argue that blood pressure measurement is an important part of most patient consultations. But an increasing body of clinical evidence seems to indicate that improper blood pressure technique is fairly common.

In an effort to contribute to the conversation of proper blood pressure technique, we’ve created a clinical training video unlike any other. It’s entertaining and funny, but also grounded in the best practices supported by the American Heart Association and the latest clinical research.

If you enjoy watching, feel free to pass it along to any clinical professional who measures blood pressure. Share it! Tweet it! But at the very least…make sure you watch it!

Continue reading
5759 Hits

The Role of ABPM in Diagnosing Hypertension

Mature Man being consulted by a Physician

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Weighs In

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 67 million American adults (31%) have high blood pressure – that’s 1 out of every 3 adults. Depending upon the severity of the condition, typically diagnosed by in-office BP measurements, blood pressure medication and/or lifestyle modifications may be prescribed.

Although in-office BP measurements are typically used to diagnose hypertension, several studies have shown that other diagnostic options are far more reliable - specifically, the use of a 24-hour, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring device (ABPM).

Continue reading
2281 Hits

Cardiac Stress Tests Help Predict the Future

Picture of Heart in a Crystal Ball being held by a hand.

Let’s be honest, a cardiac stress test can be just that – stressful! So how do physicians know when it’s appropriate to use this as a way to evaluate how well a patient’s heart is handling its workload? Well, it’s actually by considering a few different factors. Is the patient healthy enough to walk on a treadmill or bike on an ergometer? What if the patient presents healthy, yet there is a family history of heart disease? After evaluating those parameters, the question then becomes which type of stress test [see previous blog] should the patient actually undergo? The good news - there may now be further guidance for physicians when it comes to making this decision, specifically for males who are at risk.

Continue reading
3150 Hits

Mobile Healthcare Apps: Good or Bad?

Picture of Mobile Phone with Internet and Networking Concept Art

Healthcare Mobile Apps – there are certainly no shortage of them, and they cover just about every area of health care you can think of, including mobile blood pressure measurement. According to a recent online article published by Medical News Today, more than 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a health app within the next year. And the FDA has certainly taken notice of this growing trend, recently clarifying that only a very specific group of health apps are actually validated in accordance with their guidelines and regulated under their governance.

Continue reading
2488 Hits