People who test their blood pressure at home do not always report the results accurately to their doctors, a situation that can interfere with proper care, a Pittsburgh study shows.
Researchers asked patients with high blood pressure to take their pressure three times a day, using an electronic home test kit, and write down the results. Without their knowledge, home monitors also recorded the blood pressure electronically and the two sets of numbers were later compared.
About two-thirds of the written measurements were identical to the measurements stored electronically. But nearly 20 percent of the written blood pressures differed by more than 10 millimeters of mercury (the standard unit of blood-pressure measurement) from the electronic recordings.
Reporting of uncontrolled blood pressure, or hypertension, was more likely to be inaccurate -- a finding that researchers called especially worrisome. ''False reporting of uncontrolled pressures may misguide physicians in the optimal medical treatment of their patients with hypertension, which could result in worse patient outcomes,'' they said.
The study included 29 hypertension patients, 15 women and 14 men, randomly selected from the database of a managed-care health plan in Pittsburgh. They averaged 56 years in age.
Blood pressure is commonly measured in two numbers. The higher number refers to systolic pressure -- when the heart contracts. The lower number refers to the diastolic pressure between beats. Both numbers appear in the usual notation for blood pressure: for example, ''130 over 85.''
The study was done by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Health-America of Pennsylvania Inc.
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