Blood Pressure readings may be erroneous

A friend of mine had a normal cardiac workup. Blood pressure was normal, EKG (Electra Cardiogram) was normal, cardiac enzymes normal. A bill of health from his doctor. My friend was dead the next morning from a massive heart attack. No warning, no indication, by all accounts it should not have happened but it did.

Now researchers are discussion something new, “Masked Hypertension.” A person can have a completely normal blood pressure at the doctors office, but can have a variance of numbers once they become ambulatory. The only way to catch it is by 24 hour monitoring with a small blood pressure device.

The research was comprised of 900 healthy middle age patients. Of the 900 patients, 144 of them or 16% has masked hypertension. The silent killer was hidden behind what appeared to be a normal blood pressure, but it was unmasked after the 24 hour monitoring. According to Dr. Gerald Fletcher, a spokesman for the American Heart Association, “These new findings debunk a widely held belief that ambulatory blood pressure is usually lower than clinic blood pressure.”

While it may not be cost effective to monitor every for 24 hours there are some indication of who should be monitored. If you have high cholesterol, are overweight, or have a family history of high blood pressure, you might benefit from this type of monitoring if your pressure is normal in a doctor’s office. Check with your family physician and see if you would benefit from being monitored.

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