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Advice from the BP Measurement Experts

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

 

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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.

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Do I REALLY Need Treatment for Hypertension?

Picture of a various pills forming the shape of a question mark.

Were You Properly Diagnosed?

A vast amount of physicians are diagnosing hypertension without properly assessing a patient’s blood pressure during the course of a 24-hour period using Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring. Simply put, 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
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JNC 8 BP Guidelines: To Treat or Not to Treat Hypertension?

JNC 8 BP Guidelines: To Treat or Not to Treat Hypertension?

As word gets out about the controversial blood pressure guideline changes published by the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8), the big question for clinicians is “what impact does this have on how we treat patients?” Fortunately, Duke University researchers are looking into this for you. An April 2014 JAMA analysis states that almost 6 million Americans currently taking BP medications might be able to throw them away based on new guidelines and another 13.5 million previously-diagnosed patients with uncontrolled hypertension now meet healthy blood pressure benchmarks.

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You Want to do What with That?

You Want to do What with That?Have you ever read the instructions for use for a product that you purchased? Let’s be honest, a majority of us simply do not take the time to read the instructions that come with a product; especially if it is something we believe we are familiar with already. I mean, who has the time, or patience, to sift through all of the warnings and the over simplified step-by-step description of how to use something in order to find that one little nugget of information that might actual improve your user experience? And besides, aren’t we supposed to be saving trees?


But wait. What if we told you that the instructions are there because not all products are created equal? Take the omnipresent blood pressure cuff for example. You’ve used one you’ve used them all, right? Wrong. Not every cuff is identical. There are many varieties, sizes, and shapes and each of those has specific, appropriate applications.

We appreciate the value of even five minutes gained in a day by tossing the instructions aside and charging forward. But in the case of blood pressure cuffs, the instructions for fitting are even more important, no matter how simple they may seem. Having the right sized cuff and placing that cuff properly on the patient’s arm are integral to the accuracy of any blood pressure measurement. And for automated blood pressure measurement devices, the cuff is the sensor which collects the necessary data to derive the blood pressure values. Applying an unsuitable cuff to your patient can generate erroneous results, and therefore affect a patient’s diagnosis and/or treatment.

Reading the instructions for use will help you learn to select the appropriate cuff size for your patient as well as how to apply it properly, thus ensuring the data you collect is accurate and useful. But, for all you visual learners, we have created five new videos to help with placement of some of the cuffs we offer at SunTech Medical: Orbit Cuffs for use with our Oscar 2 ABPM system, and for the Tango stress monitors Orbit-K Cuffs for everyday use, and Single Patient Use Kits as a Disposable Cuff option for the Stress Lab.

 

 

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Pay-For-Performance Achieves Better Hypertension Control?

Pay-For-Performanc Achieves Better Hypertension Control?As the Affordable Care Act becomes more established here in the US, one of the many new initiatives it brings to bear is pay-for-performance. Pay-for-performance is an incentive that encourages physicians to deliver a higher quality of care, as opposed to a reimbursement model that drives more tests and procedures. While similar to the system the National Health Service (NHS) has had in the UK for several years now, there is much debate over whether this method will improve the healthcare situation in the US. One group of researchers recently tested the pay-for-performance model by using the rate of hypertension control as their quality metric.

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ABPM Makes a Lot of Cents

ABPM ReimbursementAmbulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) is a commonly-used tool for the identification and treatment of hypertension with a variety of clinical applications including identification of white-coat hypertension, diagnosis of masked hypertension, monitoring the efficacy of anti-hypertensive treatment, and identification of resistant hypertension. One common question from both those preparing to implement ABPM in their practice, and current ABPM users alike, is whether or not it is a reimbursable procedure.

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ESH Releases New Guidelines on Hypertension and BP Measurement

ESH and ESC Guidelines 2013This year marked the 23rd scientific meeting of the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) on "Hypertension and Cardiovascular Protection". While the ESH annual meeting is always filled with the latest in hypertension research, this year's highlight was the presentation of the newest edition of the ESH/ESC (European Society of Cardiology) Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension.

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Beet High Blood Pressure

 beetrootjuiceMy mother was recently diagnosed with high Blood Pressure (BP). She talked to her doctor about the best ways to help control her high BP. The doctor prescribed a blood pressure medication and recommended she should eat more fruits and vegetables in addition to adding 30 minutes of exercise to her daily routine.

I was happy that the doctor recommended a healthy lifestyle to her in addition to the medication. I wouldn't call myself a health nut, maybe an enthusiast – which is why I liked the idea of alternatives for her. Recently, I read a study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, about how drinking a cup (250ml) of beetroot juice a day could help lower High BP.

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World Health Organization Releases 2013 Global Brief on Hypertension

Diagnosing Hypertension

On April 7th, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated their annual World Health Day in order to draw international attention to important global health issues. Each year, the WHO highlights a different global health concern and, and we found it noteworthy that the focus of this year is controlling high blood pressure.

 

As part of their efforts, the WHO released a new publication, “A Global Brief on Hypertension” (link below), which is now available as a free download at the official WHO website. The brief describes how hypertension is contributing to the growing burden of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure and premature death and disability. The WHO authors explain how hypertension is both preventable and treatable and provides guidance on how governments, health workers, civil society, the private sector and individuals can reduce hypertension and its impact.

 

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Increasing Time Between BP Screenings: Not Such a Dynamite Idea

DynamiteMost folks being treated for hypertension are quite familiar with routine BP measurement because their doctor measures and discusses their blood pressure data with them at almost every visit. Many patients will even monitor their own BP at home on a regular basis. Shucks, even people with completely normal BP (<120mmHg systolic, <70mmHg diastolic) are never surprised when a nurse slaps a BP cuff on their arm anytime they visit a doctor's office. Taking BP has simply become 'par for the course' during most any clinical office visit for just about everyone.

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Beat Down Blood Pressure Video Challenge

BP Beat Down Video Challenge With May being High Blood Pressure Awareness month, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in partnership with Million Hearts (an HHS initiative) are holding a video challenge where folks share how they are using technology to help achieve and manage blood pressure control.

Contestants are asked to create short (<2 minutes long), compelling videos that illustrate how they are using health IT or other e-health tools to measure their BP, take their BP medications as prescribed and to maintain a healthy lifestyle that helps keep their blood pressure in control.

For more information, to submit your own video entry or to vote for your favorite, please visit:

http://bloodpressure.challenge.gov/

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Study Shows Off-Roading Can Improve Blood Pressure

ATV could help lower bpLooking for a good excuse for some outdoor adventure? A clinical study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that regularly riding motorized off-road vehicles, like ATV's and dirt bikes, can improve health-related fitness, improve quality of life, and even reduce blood pressure. It goes without saying that for speed-crazed gearheads, tearing around the countryside like a banshee is fun. But who knew that it could also be so...well...healthy? As for me, I think a new ATV is just what the doctor ordered. Happy trails, everyone!

 

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Deflating Expectations

deflateWe’ve written quite a bit here on the SunTech blog about BP technique. And guess what? We’re going to talk about it again! Maybe it’s not the most fascinating topic in the world of non-invasive blood pressure, but I think there are few as important to the successful treatment of high blood pressure. I must not be the only one, because studies that look at blood pressure technique continue to be published at a pretty good clip.

One of the more recent ones is aptly titled, “Blood Pressure Monitoring Technique Impacts Hypertension Treatment”. Authored by Ray et al and published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, this study compared the way that BP’s are normally taken during triage check-in on a population of 40 patients at the New Mexico Hospital Adult Internal Medicine Clinic. A study investigator observed the technique used by the clinician, and then took the patient’s BP using the AHA recommendations for blood pressure measurement published in 2005.

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Medical Billing Codes Gone Wild!

Orcas spit water at viewersHere on the SunTech blog, we normally aim to provide valuable clinical information and helpful tips related to all things blood pressure. But allow me to wax philosophical for a moment, because…well, you’ll see why.

Right. So, for many of us who work in health-care or a health-care related field, there is significant meaning to be found in doing a job that can positively affect people’s well-being. It’s great to wake up every day knowing that you will indirectly or directly help to cure illnesses, heal wounds, save lives, and treat burns due to water skis on fire…wait, huh?

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10 Things to Look for When Purchasing Reusable Cuffs

Blood Pressure Cuff Check ListIn a recent blog post, we took a look at the various types of blood pressure cuffs available on the market. One of four main types of blood pressure cuffs is the reusable cuff. Given that there are many different manufacturers of reusable blood pressure cuffs with many different options, the selection process can be difficult.  So what do you look for when purchasing a reusable cuff?  Below, we have listed the top 10 features to look for when purchasing a reusable cuff:


  1. Durability: Reusable cuffs must be made with a durable material that will be able to withstand multiple inflations, multiples times per day, on multiple patients and used in a variety of applications (i.e. hemodialysis, EMS, primary care offices, hospitals, etc).
  2. Patient Comfort: Even though reusable cuffs need to be durable; they must also be comfortable to the patient.  If the cuff is uncomfortable, patients will probably let you know and resultant patient movement during a reading may lead to multiple re-inflates or error codes.
  3. Cleaning and Disinfecting: Since reusable cuffs are used on multiple patients, it is extremely important that these cuffs are washed on a regular basis (preferably after every patient).  This is especially true today since several studies have identified blood pressure cuffs as potential vehicles for transmission of nosocomial infections (i.e. MRSA, C-diff, etc).
  4. Range of Cuff Sizes: It is extremely important to make sure that a manufacturer makes a full range of cuff sizes.  There is a big difference in upper arm circumference between a child, a middle-aged man, and an elderly woman, so a medical facility should have the proper size cuffs to use on each patient.
  5. Color-Coding: Most cuff manufacturers color-code their cuffs to help medical professional quickly chose the right size cuff for a patient.  Most manufacturers follow the same color coding schemes for each size cuff, which is shown in the table below:
    Cuff Size Color
    Infant Orange
    Child/ Child Long Green
    Small Adult / Small Adult Long Light Blue
    Adult / Adult Long Navy Blue
    Large Adult / Large Adult Long Burgundy
    Thigh Brown
  6. Range Markings: A cuff must have range markers on the inside or outside, (or preferably both), of the cuff to indicate if the correct size is being used on a patient.  Using an incorrectly sized cuff often results in inaccurate blood pressure measurements.
  7. Latex Free & PVC Free: To minimize risk of adverse reactions to latex and to promote patient safety, reusable cuffs should be free of latex and PVC.
  8. Reliable Performance:  The last thing you want to happen when you purchase a blood pressure cuff is to have it leak.  Therefore, look for a cuff manufacturer that leak tests their cuffs on a regular basis.
  9. Regulatory Requirements: All blood pressure cuffs should be designed and validated to the AHA (American Heart Association) and the AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) standards.  These standards provide recommendations for cuff sizing, life cycle of the cuff, maximum inflation, etc.
  10. Warranty:  Most cuff manufacturers have a 2 or 3 three year warranty on their reusable cuffs.  Of course, this doesn’t mean they will replace cuffs with normal wear and tear.  If the cuff leaks, rips, or tears, then you should be able to return the cuff under warranty with no hassle.

Whether you are a distributor, physician, nurse, or in materials management and responsible for purchasing blood pressure cuffs, it is good to know the features and benefits of reusable cuffs so you can make an informed decision on which brand of cuff you would like to purchase and use at your facility.  If you have any additional features you would like to add to the list, please leave us a comment below.

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Does Your New Physician Make Your Blood Pressure Rise

High Blood Pressure MeasurementA recent article in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension does a colorful yet effective job of describing the transient effects of White Coat Hypertension (WCH) when meeting  a new physician.  Studies show that patients who are not hypertensive but show high BP readings when visiting a new doctor for their first time can continue to present with these elevated BP readings for three to six visits.  Although treatment for hypertension based on these measurements is not recommended, the gold standard diagnostic test for WCH, a 24-hour study with an ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) monitor, can more effectively determine whether treatment is, in fact, needed.

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Implantable blood pressure monitors: Science fiction or reality?

blue waveformAt SunTech Medical, we’re always thinking about blood pressure (BP) and how current measurement tools and techniques might be improved. In many ways, “routine” blood pressure measurement hasn’t changed much over the last 100 years. But innovative tools like ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) have helped us learn about the importance of masked hypertension, overnight dipping, and blood pressure variability, their impact on clinical outcomes, and the subsequent guidance of hypertension treatment.

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Blood Pressure Measurement and Dialysis

Dialysis Patient

Dialysis is a medical treatment that performs the job of well-functioning kidneys in ridding the body of waste and helping it to maintain a proper balance of water and minerals. In hemodialysis, this is done by pumping a patient's blood through a dialyzer where the blood is cleansed, and the clean blood is returned to the patient.1 For the over 350,000 US 2and 40,000 UK residents3 who have lost their kidneys and/or kidney function and partake in dialysis regularly, the procedure provides for and defines the normalcy of daily life.

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Report Indicates US Neglects Hypertension

Hypertension

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report last week recommending strategies to address the "neglected disease" of hypertension in the US. Many people do not realize that high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death in the US, and it is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. One in three US adults has hypertension, and less than half of them have it in control, resulting in an estimated cost of $76 billion in 2010.

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