There are two types of blood pressures -- systolic pressure is created by the contraction of the heart muscle pushing blood into the vessels and diastolic pressure is when the heart is at rest between beats. The normal blood pressure for adults is 120/80. The first number in a blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure and the second, or bottom, number is the diastolic pressure.
A recent study shows that measuring your high blood pressure at home may lead to fewer blood pressure medications and slightly lower costs. Researchers compared self-measurement at patients' homes to conventional doctors' office measurements of blood pressure for patients with high blood pressure. The study included 400 patients with a diastolic blood pressure reading of 95 millimeters of mercury or more as measured at physicians' offices. All of the patients in the study received high blood pressure drugs. One group monitored their blood pressure several times a day at home and averaged the daily blood pressure over one week. The other group's measurements were averaged from three visits to a physician's office. The patients were followed for a year.
Researchers found 25 percent of home blood pressure patients had stopped the high blood pressure drug treatment compared to 11 percent of the office blood pressure patients by the end of the study. The study's authors also found that the mode of measurement did not lead to any significant difference in the proportions of patients progressing to multiple-drug treatment. However, they found that the final office, home, and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure measurements were higher in the home blood pressure group than in the office blood pressure group.
Thus researcher say, "Adjustment of antihypertensive treatment based on home BP (blood pressure) instead of office BP led to less-intensive drug treatment and marginally lower costs but also to less BP control, with no differences in general well-being or left ventricular mass." They say self-measurement helps to identify patients with "white-coat hypertension" -- abnormal elevation of blood pressure only in the physician's office. They recommend self-measurement as a complement to conventional office measurement.