Do You Really Have High Blood Pressure?
Julian Whitaker, MD
High blood pressure is one of our most common conditions, affecting roughly 75 million Americans. Those who are labeled with hypertension pay higher insurance rates and are frequently subjected to lifelong use of dangerous medications. Yet, a recent study suggests that four in five blood pressure readings taken in doctors’ offices are inaccurate!
Texas researchers enrolled patients with blood pressures higher than 120/80 and tested them according to the standard—but rarely followed—guidelines: sitting in a chair with a back support, feet planted on the floor and legs uncrossed for five minutes, no restrictive clothing or caffeine, and no exercise or tobacco for at least 30 minutes prior to testing. The tester made sure the cuff was sized and the arm placed appropriately, and two separate readings were taken and averaged (plus a third if the first two varied by more than 5 mm Hg).
The results were astounding. When these guidelines were followed, average systolic/diastolic pressures were 15.7/8.2 mm Hg lower, going from 146.4/87.6 to 130.7/79.4. These are significant differences, folks. The blood pressure classifications of 81 percent of the patients in this study improved—from stage 1 hypertension (140–159/90–99) to prehypertension (120–139/80–89), for example, or from prehypertension to normal (less than 120/80).
This is by no means the only study to illustrate the inaccuracies of testing. Uncalibrated equipment, “interobserver reliability” (different nurses or doctors getting different results), and white-coat hypertension (elevation due to doctor-induced anxiety) also contribute to faulty readings and over-diagnosis. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness of this very common and serious problem has turned millions of healthy individuals into medication-dependent, erroneously labeled “patients.”
There’s a simple way to avoid this: Buy a blood pressure monitor, learn how to use it correctly, and periodically take your blood pressure at home. Do not, I repeat, do not roll over, accept a diagnosis of hypertension, and get on the drug merry-go-round until you have checked and double-checked your numbers.
- To learn more about our natural approach to lowering blood pressure, call the Whitaker Wellness Institute at (866) 944-8253.
- Burgess S. Blood pressure rising: Is there a difference between current clinical and recommended measurement techniques? 2010 Oct. American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) 2010 Scientific Assembly. Abstract RS015.
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