Advice from the BP Measurement Experts
On top of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, aggressive treatment of high blood pressure has shown effectiveness in mitigating risk of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is viewed as a potential precursor to Alzheimer’s and dementia. A study showed that when treating patients to reduce systolic blood pressure below 120, as opposed to below 140, the past standard target, the risk of mild cognitive impairment was reduced by 19% comparatively.
Gone are the days where your cardiovascular health could be summed up in two numbers. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, measured at the brachial artery, were the key tools for staving off heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular disease (CVD). Have a BP of under 140/90? Great! You are going to live a long and healthy life. Over 140/90? Time to watch your salt and medicate away. While lowering BP in hypertensive patients has been proven to be an effective intervention, it may not be so simple any more. Research, such as the SPRINT study, are finding benefits for managing BP in pre-hypertensive patients. With that, a new series of indices and measurements are offering more tools for doctors to measure and treat hypertension.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) - a procedure in which a patient wears an automatic blood pressure device for 24 hours as readings are taken every 30-60 minutes - is a widely used hypertension diagnostic tool in many countries, but not the US.
Traditionally, blood pressure (BP) measurement is largely confined to the doctor's office, using manual measurements to provide a snapshot of a patient's blood pressure and cardiovascular risk.
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.
Hypertension, often called "the silent killer", is a medical condition that does not strike fear into the hearts of many people. Why? It often presents no noticeable symptoms.
Many people (myself included) don't feel the need to go to the doctor until they have (unbearable) symptoms of something being "wrong". It is a fair assumption then that if they are not going for regular check-ups with a healthcare provider, they are probably not monitoring blood pressure levels on their own either. It is also likely that some are even unaware that their blood pressure is at an unhealthy level.
When all else fails, keep it simple. Isn’t this what we have been told since childhood? It seems that some cardiologists have gone back to this basic philosophy when it comes to diagnosing heart disease. Dr Martha Gulati, a cardiologist at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center where she specializes in women’s heart disease, says that it is “simple stuff” like an exercise stress test that can “catch blockages and predict hypertension” that other more high-tech tests sometimes miss. She says that using an exercise stress test in a recent case allowed her to “find significant disease” that other tests like an MRI completely missed.
SunTech has blogged on the importance of BP measurement in both arms before (see: Has My Physician Measured My BP in Both Arms?) and research articles continue to be published on this issue. But now, two new studies have been published showing that the benefits of BP measurement in both right and left arms could be a life saving step in routine care.
Although some people like to “indulge” in alcoholic beverages to help bring in the New Year, you may want to take it easy if you have high blood pressure. While it is common knowledge that high blood pressure increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases and that excessive drinking is not beneficial to your body; the combination of the two may be double trouble.
A recent article published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN)1 emphasizes the key role of 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) as a means to identify masked hypertension in pediatric patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). The study, published in January 2010, showed that many children with CKD who have normal blood pressure readings at the doctor's office often have high blood pressure readings at home. The researchers used ABPM to collect blood pressure measurements throughout the day including periods of sleep and normal daily activity, which provides a more accurate BP profile for each pediatric patient.