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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Using Internet, Apps to Manage BP Has Dangers: Study

Researchers find measurement errors, misleading information
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It's important that people with high blood pressure be "self-empowered" to take part in their own care, Sica said. But they also have to be careful about their sources of information.

Since so many people get health information online, Kumar's team wanted to check the accuracy of blood pressure information on YouTube -- a site that draws more than 1 billion "unique users" each month, according to the company.

The researchers searched the site using the terms "high blood pressure" and "hypertension," and ended up screening 176 videos -- a small sampling of the total hits their search retrieved.

Overall, the majority of the videos were deemed "useful." They included information on how high blood pressure develops and how to prevent and treat it. But one-third provided misleading information, Kumar's team found.

Often, those videos focused on supplements or other therapies that aren't proven to lower blood pressure -- such as L-arginine, garlic and coenzyme Q10 supplements, according to Kumar.

Many also featured ads for the products, which "suggests they were driven by financial motivations," Kumar said.

If you go online for blood pressure information, he suggested you stick with reliable sources such as the American Heart Association or the U.S. National Library of Medicine website Medline Plus.

Sica agreed. As for iPhone blood pressure devices, he said questions remain. It's not clear, for example, how they stack up against traditional home blood pressure monitors, he noted.

But those traditional devices are not all the same, either. In general, the heart association and other groups advise people to use automated (rather than manual) monitors that have an arm cuff. Devices that take wrist or finger measurements are less reliable.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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