High blood pressure is called "the silent killer" because more than 1 in 4 Americans with the condition don't know they have it. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure increases risk of strokes, heart attacks, and chronic heart disease. It contributes to a half million deaths in the United States every year.
The good news, said Bev Green, MD, MPH, is many people with hypertension can reduce their risks. Eating right, exercising, and — for some — taking blood pressure-reducing medications can get blood pressure under control. But if hypertension can be silent and not cause symptoms, how can we know if our blood pressure is high or controlled?
Green is a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and a family medicine physician with the Washington Permanente Medical Group. Her groundbreaking studies showed that the most accurate way to measure blood pressure is also what most people prefer — monitoring blood pressure at home. She also has personal experience with high blood pressure.
Based on work by Green and her research team, your doctor may suggest that you monitor your blood pressure at home and give your primary care team the measurements.
Green has this advice for getting accurate home blood pressure measurements:
"Once you have a routine, home blood pressure monitoring is easy," Green said. "I do it regularly myself."
By Chris Tachibana
Home blood pressure monitoring shown to be an excellent alternative for making new diagnoses of hypertension.
Beverly Green, MD, and Kaiser Permanente work to improve hypertension care.