Harvard Men's Health Watch

Measure blood pressure at home for better control

Home blood pressure monitoring leads to better control of high blood pressure within six months, according to research published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers pooled the findings of 52 separate studies of people with high blood pressure who checked their numbers with a home monitor. Within six months, systolic blood pressures (the upper number) dropped an average of about 4 mm Hg and diastolic pressures (the lower number) fell more than 2 mm Hg.

A drop of a few points in blood pressure may not seem like much, but it represents substantially less illness if sustained over the long term. Inadequately controlled high blood pressure raises the risk for heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. For many people, home blood pressure monitoring provides more accurate readings, motivation to stick with diet and exercise plans, and feedback on how well medications are working.

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