Health Watch -- Blood Pressure Outside the Clinic
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Attaining accurate blood pressure readings is a health-care concern.
You may have heard about white-coat high blood pressure. That's when being in the doctor's office - and maybe waiting long past the appointment time to be seen - gives a patient an abnormally high blood pressure reading. That person may have normal blood pressure in less stressful settings.
Italian researchers say the opposite condition, isolated ambulatory hypertension, is something doctors should be aware of. With this condition, patients may have moderately high blood pressure readings at the doctor's office, but when they're up and moving, walking or going about their usual routine, their blood pressure becomes high. It may take repeated testing to diagnose this condition. The hard part is figuring out which patients who have moderately high blood pressure at the clinic are at risk for having high blood pressure away from the clinic.
The researchers found that about half of the patients who had moderately high blood pressure at the clinic actually had ambulatory hypertension. A large percentage of these patients go on to develop continuously high blood pressure that needs treatment.
Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas are studying ways to check people's blood pressure outside the clinic. For example, they've trained barbers in minority neighborhoods where many cases of high blood pressure go undiagnosed to measure blood pressures for their customers and suggest that those with higher readings see a doctor.
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