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How to Check Your Heart Health? A Blood Pressure Reading Over 24 Hours

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a warning signal of various health problems. According to a new study, the best method to establish the heart health of a person is to take blood pressure readings over a period of 24 hours.

However, this technique can trigger ‘white coat hypertension’ which occurs when going to the doctor’s consulting room causes stress which raises the person’s blood pressure.

Within the United States, the main cause of death is heart disease. Approximately 610,000 deaths or 1 out of 4 (Trusted Source) are caused by it on an annual basis.

Therefore, it costs the USA approximately $1 billion daily, making it the most expensive condition.

The majority of cardiovascular disorders are actually preventable if the patients were diagnosed and treated earlier.

A technique to detect the signs of cardiovascular conditions, is by conducting a blood pressure reading.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is since a long period, known to be one of the greatest risks linked to heart disorders, whilst highly treatable too.  However, a lot of people don’t know they are suffering from a heart condition until it becomes too late, as reported by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

However, scientists have now discovered a new method to get a more accurate reading of a patient’s blood pressure. It is expected that this development can enable doctors to prescribe the right medicines to people sooner, whilst assisting in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

By recording the blood pressure of patients over a period of 24 hours than only once in a hospital or clinic environment, doctors will be able to diagnose hypertension more accurately. They will also be able to predict a person’s risk to develop heart & vascular disease more effectively, as per a recent international study which was published in JAMA. (Trusted Source).

Blood pressure readings over 24 hours, more accurate

To be able to establish the most reliable method when it comes to measuring people’s blood pressure, scientists followed 11,135 people for 14 years, condescending from Europe, Latin America and East Asia.

The researchers compared the authenticity of blood pressure measures which were taken in the environment of a medical setting to blood pressure measures which were taken over the period of 24 hours including night and day.

The scientists discovered that nighttime and 24-hour blood pressure recordings, provided them with a more reliable estimate of a person’s risk to develop heart & vascular diseases than in-office readings.

A researcher, Dr. Gladys Maestre, Co-author of the study, (University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine), stated:

That despite the fact that vascular and heart disorders are strongly linked to blood pressure, irrespectively of the method used to measure it, they did not know until now, what kind of blood pressure recording will be able to capture the risk most effectively.

According to the scientists, the findings suggested that a person’s blood pressure must be monitored continuously for a period of 24 hours. This will assist in diagnosing the heart issues of patients, whilst ultimately gaining the ability to prevent cardiovascular disorders.

Blood pressure: A strong prediction of heart disease

Since a long period, high blood pressure was a great predictor of heart disease, stroke as well as other vascular diseases.

A cardiologist, Dr. Richard Wright (Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California) stated:

That since the invention of blood pressure measuring devices, over a century ago, it is noted that elevated blood pressure readings predict the ultimate development of heart attacks, blood vessel disease, heart failure, stroke and kidney dysfunction.

Generally, how further a patient’s blood pressure measurements fluctuate from the ideal reading, the more prone they are to ultimately develop any of the above-mentioned health problems, Wright added.

However, when a person’s blood pressure is taken in a healthcare environment, a great problem occurs.

A lot of people have raised blood pressure measurements because of the anxiety they experience inside a medical environment, which is called white coat effect. Such high recordings don’t reflect the patient’s blood pressure levels accurately.

Dr. Wright explained that blood pressure varies broadly over a day, for any person and can’t be seen as a fixed number. Blood pressure readings will be higher during physical exercise or during stress, whilst it will be usually the lowest during the night, whilst sleeping.

Dr. Wright added that only seeing a doctor entering a room or see the blood pressure cuff on the arm, can lead to a spike in the blood pressure in some individuals.

There is a great advantage when a person’s blood pressure is measured whilst asleep, because the outcome will not be affected by activities or daytime meals.

A board-certified lipidologist & cardiologist, Dr. Nicole Harkan, (Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates in New York City), said that ambulatory monitors provide them with a good sense about a patient’s blood pressure when they are asleep, when it should be lower, or what it is going on in real life.

She added that these monitors supply them with a great data set regarding blood pressures to observe, compared to just one snapshot in the consultation room of a doctor.

Such a one-time snapshot will also be subjected to a lot of variants which include the recent activity level of a patient, error in measurement, timing of medicine as well as insufficient rest before the measurement.

Harkin said that the blood pressure guidelines of the present American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, are supporting the monitoring of blood pressure by using ambulatory monitors which can predict cardiovascular outcomes, much better.

Insurance coverage regarding the monitoring of ambulatory blood pressure differ between insurance providers. Often it only covers people who suffers from white coat hypertension, in instances where a person’s blood pressure is elevated inside a doctor’s office, compared to what it normally would be.

When people are aware that they are experiencing a higher blood pressure than normal, it will put them in a position to manage it, minimizing the possibility that they will ultimately develop heart disease.

Conclusion

A recent international study revealed that the monitoring of blood pressure over a period of 24 hours, can supply a more exact prediction about a person’s risk to develop vascular & heart disease.

The greatest predictor of developing heart disease, is high blood pressure. The sooner people start to manage their blood pressure, their risk to develop heart & vascular conditions, will be lower.

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