The Number One Problem in High Blood Pressure
I have just returned from the scientific meetings of the American Society of Hypertension in New York City. I was really surprised by what I confirmed there. Many, if not the majority of measurements of blood pressure are not done correctly. I say confirmed because I have had the information about the correct way to measure blood pressure in my book, High Blood Pressure For Dummies, for several years. I guess I assumed that doctors, nurses and others had learned to measure it properly, but I was mistaken.
Consider the ramifications of this fact. For the patient it means that he might not have high blood pressure after all. If he does have high blood pressure, measurements that are taken to see whether treatment has worked are inaccurate. If he doesn’t have high blood pressure but has been given that diagnosis, he is suffering the side effects of medication for no reason.
For the medical profession, it means that many of the journal articles that claim that a certain medication causes a certain amount of lowering of blood pressure are not accurate. Conclusions that depend on accurate measurement of blood pressure are false. Drugs that are highly touted by their manufacturer for their ability to lower blood pressure may not do so.
Before 1980, people with diabetes had no way to measure their blood glucose and had to measure the glucose in their urine. This proved to be a highly inaccurate technique for controlling the blood glucose. Thousands of medical papers had been published using urine glucose tests. They were all wrong. It was only with the advent of blood glucose monitoring that people with diabetes could reliably change their medication dosage, especially their insulin dosage. The measurement of the blood pressure seems to be in a similar situation.
For a complete discussion of the proper way to measure the blood pressure, see Chapter 2 in my book mentioned above.