Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the single most important risk factor for stroke and is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. According to Hypertension Canada, high blood pressure affects almost 25% of Canadians and over 40% of adults worldwide. Unfortunately, hypertension has no obvious symptoms until the body is damaged from chronic high blood pressure, creating complications such as cardiovascular disease or kidney disease.
Home Monitoring and the Standard of Care
Monitoring of blood pressure is one tool in the arsenal to manage hypertension. However, intermittent blood pressure checks at the medical practitioner’s office might not be enough. Many organizations, such as the American Heart Association, American Society of Hypertension, Hypertension Canada and Heart & Stroke Canada recommend that people with hypertension monitor their readings at home on a consistent basis. Frequent and consistent blood pressure readings are necessary to provide health care providers with a good understanding of their patient’s hypertension – and having this additional information will help both the patient and medical practitioner manage the disease.
Home Blood Pressure Monitors and Measuring your Blood Pressure Accurately
Dr. Raj Padwal, and his team of researchers at the University of Alberta, recently tested home blood pressure monitors and found that many of the readings were inaccurate. While the researchers were surprised by the results, Dr. Padwal, in a CBC interview stated,”I wouldn’t quit doing home monitoring but I would ask people to do a lot of readings”. According to the article, he asks his patients to take two readings in the morning and two in the evening for seven days and then he averages out the results. Dr. Padwal further states that he still, “…trust(s) that more than readings we get in the clinic”.
We, at Unboxed Health, believe that knowing how to take blood pressure correctly is key to accurate readings. Following Hypertension Canada’s guidelines, there are 9 key steps to obtaining an accurate reading:
- Choose a cuff that fits properly.
- Place the blood pressure cuff on the non-dominant arm.
- Rest comfortably for 5 minutes in a seated position with back support.
- Use a bare arm that is supported with the blood pressure cuff at heart level.
- Do not consume caffeine or tobacco in the hour before taking the measurement.
- Do not exercise 30 minutes before taking the measurement.
- Take measurements before breakfast and 2 hours after dinner.
- Take measurements before taking medication.
- Take two measurements in the morning and two in the evening and then average the results.
If patients are concerned there is a problem with their home blood pressure cuff, it is important they alert their medical practitioner and bring the cuff in for testing at the next appointment.
BProactive Guides Hypertension Patients
BProactive is Unboxed Health’s answer to accurate home monitoring of blood pressure. Available for download to your smartphone or tablet on iTunes or Google Play, BProactive guides hypertension patients through the correct way to take blood pressure readings. Patients use their practitioner recommended blood pressure cuff and enter their readings into the app.
The app will provide prompts on when to take blood pressure measurements. It will also average readings over different time periods, eliminating a tedious step for patients. BProactive, a cloud based app, will send this information directly to the patient’s health care provider. These frequent home blood pressure measurements will provide a large sample size of readings to the medical practitioner, creating a more accurate picture of an individual patient’s hypertension, and thus help determine the plan to achieve healthy blood pressure targets.
BProactive is designed to connect patients with their practitioners. If you are a patient and would like to use the app, talk to your practitioner about getting connected. Practitioners can find out more by contacting Unboxed Health.
Ian MacDonald, M.D., FRCPC (Nephrology)
Chief Medical Officer
Unboxed Health Inc.
Dr. Ian MacDonald is a practising Nephrologist in Northern Ontario, with an interest in Hypertension.