Why is a five minute snapshot of a person’s blood pressure taken as a basis for prescribing medication, or not prescribing medication?

A decision to treat blood pressure should not be made on one blood pressure reading.  It is recommended that several measurements be made over a period of time.  However, if you go to the emergency room with symptoms and are found to have critically high blood pressure you will be treated on the spot.  24 hour blood pressure monitoring is frequently ordered when it is not clear if a person has high blood pressure based on office readings.

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