Dr. Ghazanfar H. Qureshi, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, said approximately 20 percent of the world’s adults are estimated to have high blood pressure.
If left untreated, high blood pressure, which has no symptoms, is very dangerous and can often lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke.
With this in mind, Dr. Qureshi, who serves as an interventional cardiologist with USA Physicians Group, said he recommends home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) for all patients with high blood pressure, or blood pressure in excess of 140/90 mm Hg.
Dr. Qureshi said home blood pressure monitoring provides a clearer picture of patient’s blood pressure with fluctuations over time instead of instant “snapshots” taken in the doctor’s office.
“For my clinic patients with high blood pressure, I always ask them to have home blood pressure monitoring irrespective of their blood pressure in the office,” he said. “This provides me detailed information about their trends in blood pressure and helps me to better understand and treat them more effectively.”
In some cases, patients have normal blood pressure at home, but their blood pressure in the doctor’s office rises. This phenomenon, called “white-coat hypertension,” is most likely due to stress or anxiety. HBPM helps to diagnose patients with “true” high blood pressure versus falsely elevated blood pressure in the doctor’s office.
“HBPM is especially useful in elderly patients, because the white-coat effect increases progressively with age,” Dr. Qureshi said. “Such false readings at the doctor’s office can lead to over-diagnosis or misdiagnosis of high blood pressure.”
Dr. Qureshi said blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The top number (systolic pressure) represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart is contracting, and the bottom number (diastolic pressure) represents the pressure in blood vessels between heart beats.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
Patients monitoring their blood pressure at home, said Dr. Qureshi, are getting the added benefits of becoming more educated about their health care and the adverse effects of high blood pressure.
“HBPM gives patients control over their blood pressure and treatment,” he said. “They are directly involved in the management, which also improves their compliance to the medications.”
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor for measuring blood pressure at home. Blood pressure monitors can be bought from any local pharmacy without a prescription.
Dr. Qureshi said to make sure you buy the correct cuff size (small, medium or large) and validate your blood pressure cuff with your doctor’s office blood pressure machine. Then, you can start measuring your blood pressure at home.
“While taking your blood pressure, be still and sit with your back supported, take multiple readings one minute apart (preferably in both arms) and try to measure at the same time daily,” he said.
Dr. Qureshi recommends measuring blood pressure a couple of times a day and maintaining a log book with the date, time, and reading. “Always bring your log book on your next visit so that your doctor can adjust the medications according to your home blood pressure readings.”
To learn more about high blood pressure, click here.
To make an appointment with Dr. Qureshi, call (251) 445-8242.