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At-home blood pressure monitoring

Doctors are now suggesting checking blood pressure at home.

Sometimes, visiting the doctor makes us anxious. We come in expecting bad news.

For patients with hypertension, or high blood pressure, a blood pressure measurement may not always be completely accurate in the office.

"A lot of times, we have patients come into the office, and, because of what we call 'white coat hypertension'," says Dr. Jerome Pierson, Mercy Cardiology Medical Director. "Their blood pressure will go up."

That's why doctors are pushing the use of at-home blood pressure monitors.

"By using these monitors at home, some of which are really good, that gives us an idea of what their blood pressures are in the real world," says Pierson.

For those who have well-controlled hypertension, blood pressure can be checked a few times a week.

For poorly-controlled hypertension, it is recommended once a day, at random.

"I don't recommend for patients to be taking it five or six times a day," says Pierson, "Because then that just stresses you out."

Latest numbers and research says well-controlled blood pressure should be below 130 over 70 millimeters of mercury.

With at-home machines, it is much easier to check blood pressure.

However, it is important to have the machines calibrated correctly for the best results.

"A lot of the data suggests that seventy percent of the home cuffs are going to be off by about five or so millimeters. About thirty percent will be off by more than ten millimeters. So if you are just going by your cuff at home, and they are not calibrated or you are not checking it, you could be off and not adequately controlled," says Pierson.

Most of these machines are not too expensive, making them even more helpful.

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