March 8, 2022 -- Everyone's been there. You've arrived for your scheduled doctor’s office visit and the first order of real business is the reunion with the blood pressure cuff. The first reading might be high. A second reading looks a bit better -- or maybe a bit worse. Which one's right?
The answer: Perhaps neither. Individual measures of blood pressure are not as accurate as taking multiple readings over a day and averaging them.
Blood pressure varies throughout the day -- by about 30 points for systolic pressure, or the pressure when the heart beats -- and one or two measurements in a doctor's office may not accurately reflect the average figure, says Beverly B. Green, MD, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
Average blood pressure reading is the only measurement on which a doctor can accurately diagnose and treat high blood pressure, she says. A new study by Green and other researchers at Kaiser Permanente shows that giving patients the chance to monitor their blood pressure at home could help get more reliable measurements.