Three decades of research shows doctors measure blood pressure wrongly 

Three decades of research shows doctors measure blood pressure wrongly 

Recent research presented at the American Heart Association’s hypertension scientific session in Boston on September 7, 2023, suggests that the way doctors traditionally measure blood pressure may lead to the oversight of certain health complications.

Traditionally, 140/90mmHg or higher consider as high blood pressure. However, a nearly three-decade-long study conducted by researchers aimed to investigate how blood pressure measurements in different body positions could impact the assessment of health risks.

The study’s authors noted that doctors might miss certain health complications if they solely rely on blood pressure readings taken while patients are sitting upright.

According to the researchers, the autonomic nervous system regulates blood pressure in various body positions. However, the effects of gravity can cause blood to pool when seated or upright. Additionally, the body may struggle to regulate blood pressure properly in lying, seated, and standing positions.

To gather their findings, the scientists measured the blood pressure of 15,972 individuals both while lying down and sitting up. They followed the participants’ health for an average of 25 to 28 years. And with recent data collected between 2011 and 2013.

The results revealed that 16% of people who didn’t have high blood pressure when seated were found to have elevated readings when lying down. In both positions, 74% of participants with high blood pressure had a higher risk of future heart failure. And the risk of stroke was 1.86 times higher. The risk of premature death was 1.43 times higher and coronary heart disease was 2.18 times higher. Interestingly, participants who had high blood pressure while lying down but not when seated also exhibited similarly elevated risks.

Importantly, the research found that differences in blood pressure medication usage did not impact these increased risks in either group. As a result, the authors suggest that doctors should consider taking two blood pressure readings. One while patients are sitting upright and another while lying down.

“If blood pressure is only measured while people are seated upright, cardiovascular disease risk may be missed if not also measured while they are lying supine on their backs. Our findings suggest people with known risk factors for heart disease and stroke may benefit from having their blood pressure checked while lying flat on their backs.”

Duc M. Giao, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study emphasized

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