Most people have their blood pressure checked at the doctor's office or the pharmacy. But if yours is high or borderline high, if you are in your 70s or older, or if you have diabetes or kidney disease, you may want to start checking your blood pressure at home. That's according to a new statement issued by the American Heart Association and two other groups.
Because blood pressure can vary so much, the groups advise that it's more accurate to check your own levels every day or so, instead of at a doctor's office every few months.
"High blood pressure is notoriously difficult to treat. ... Many patients fail to reach target levels despite treatment," Thomas Pickering, MD, DPhil, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, says in a news release.
Sometimes, home blood pressure monitoring can show that there is actually no blood pressure problem at all. Studies have shown that between 10% and 20% of patients diagnosed with high blood pressure in a doctor's office actually have what is called "white coat hypertension." That means their blood pressures are normal but rise only when in a hospital or doctor's office.