Individuals are being urged to take their blood pressure at home or other places outside of a hospital setting because being in a physician’s presence may raise a patient’s blood pressure.
The jump in blood pressure is called “white coat hypertension,” reported the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a Washington, D.C.-based, volunteer panel of national experts concerned with preventive medicine.
“White coat hypertension is well documented,” USPSTF said. “Epidemiologic data suggests that 15% to 30% of the population believed to have hypertension may have lower blood pressure outside the office setting.”
African Americans have the highest prevalence of high blood pressure (42.1%) compared with 28.0% of whites, 26.0 % Hispanics and 24.7 % of Asian Americans.
“Uncontrolled hypertension is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. All cause mortality in the United States,” the task force said.
The organization found that screening people 18 years old and older for high blood pressure has a beneficial impact on important health outcomes.
“Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can cause health problems if it stays high for sustained periods of time,” the task force said.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found that the best way to confirm a diagnosis outside the clinical setting is with an ambulatory blood-pressure monitor, which involves wearing a cuff attached to a small, portable machine that records blood pressure at intervals over a period of 12 to 48 hours.
“Evidence shows that ambulatory blood pressure monitoring devices more accurately predict the risk of strokes, heart attacks and other health outcomes than blood pressure screening in a medical setting,” the task force found.
The task force’s recommendations were published in this month’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.