Many people just don’t like visiting the doctor. It might set their heart thumping the moment they walk through the door. By the time they’re led into an examination room, their blood pressure might be many points higher than it was back in the comfortable confines of home.
Doctors call this phenomenon white-coat hypertension.
That is one reason why a study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association says blood pressure monitoring at home can improve hypertension control and ultimately save money for patients.
It’s all about getting the most-accurate blood-pressure reading, not a blip caused by momentary anxiety. After all, if you are terrified of spiders, you wouldn’t take your blood pressure with a tarantula on your knee.
Researchers note that it isn’t just white-coat hypertension that can skew results at the doctor’s office. For some patients, their blood pressure is actually higher at home than when they’re examined by a physician, leading the doctor to think all is well, when, in fact, it isn’t.
Scientists found when patients monitor their own blood pressure at home, physicians were able to more accurately adjust medications to better control hypertension.
About 2,500 people with persistent uncontrolled hypertension took part in the study, receiving free home blood pressure monitors, online and print materials for tracking their readings and monitoring reminders.
The researchers found that by the patients’ third office visit, two-thirds had their blood pressure under control. After six months, about 80 percent of participants had controlled blood pressure. And that reduced their ER visits and medication costs.
Home is most definitely where the heart is.