A recent study of 85 people in the UK has shown something unexpected. The majority of readings taken from home blood pressure monitors are actually too inaccurate to be useful.
To reduce the strain on the NHS and private practices, GPs have been encouraging patients to monitor their own blood pressure at home. And given the rather frightening statistic that one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure, this may seem like a good idea.
But during the study, 70% of the readings taken by patients in their own homes were found to be inaccurate within 5mmHg, which researchers explained is clinically important. 30% of the time, these readings were incorrect by as much as 10-15mmHg.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The first shows the systolic pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is pumping blood. The second is the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is resting, in between heartbeats. A healthy blood pressure reading should be below 120mmHg systolic / 80mmHg diastolic. High blood pressure puts an extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Low blood pressure is not usually as serious, but can still lead to health problems in worst cases.
The older home blood pressure monitors were found to be the most inaccurate. But newer models were also found to give incorrect readings in the study.