At YourPressure, one topic that people keep on asking us about is how they can reduce or even stop their blood pressure medication. This is closely followed by how they can reduce the side effects from their medication. At YourPressure, we believe that by measuring your blood pressure at home, you can reduce the risk of being over-treated or overdiagnosed.
The funny thing about blood pressure is that even though we know that there are many people who aren’t on medication who would benefit from it, we also know that there are a significant number of people who have been overdiagnosed with high blood pressure. There are also a significant number of people who are on too much treatment for their blood pressure.
How can this be so you ask? Well, the root cause of both is the way that we’ve traditionally measured blood pressure. You may have heard of something called “white coat hypertension”. This is a bit of a misleading name, as it doesn’t need a white coat. However what it describes is the situation where people who have their blood pressure measured outside their normal environment have a higher blood pressure than those who measure it at home.
So measuring blood pressure at the hospital, GP surgery, or clinic leads to three effects. First is that many people who would benefit from their blood pressure being measured miss out. This is because it can be hard to access these places. Second is that when people do get their blood pressure measured in one of these places, it is likely to be artificially high. This means that some people are being unnecessarily diagnosed with high blood pressure. Third, and most importantly for our original question, it means that many people are having their medication increased when they may not need to.
The best way of diagnosing high blood pressure is to have a monitor attached to you that takes a number of readings over a period of hours. This is what is currently known as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. The problem with this is that the machines are very expensive, and you have to attend the surgery or clinic twice on consecutive days to have them fitted and taken off. This is a problem that we’re looking to solve in the near future at YourPressure, so watch this space.
However, the second best way to diagnose high blood pressure is to measure it at home and keep a diary over 4-7 days. Something that our app will help you to do. This is also a really great way to monitor your blood pressure whilst you’re on treatment. By giving you an accurate measure of your blood pressure, you’ll be less likely to need unnecessary increases in medication. You never know, if you’ve not been monitoring it at home before now, you may even find that you can reduce the amount of medication that you’re taking.
Live well. Live longer.