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High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure readings

01/08/2008

Question:

When I went into the doctor this past Friday, I had a reading of 160/100. I bought a BP machine and it read 117/85. Could the 160/100 have been an inaccurate reading? Side-note: I went to the doctor 3 weeks ago and my reading was 140/85. So, I am not sure what`s going on.

Answer:

Isolated high readings can occur and do not necessarily mean that you have hypertension.  To make the diagnosis of hypertension, one needs to use the average of at least two readings, obtained at two different visits following the screening visit (the screening visit does not count).  You need an evaluation to make sure that you do not have vascular disease.  You need an eye exam, a urinalysis (to look for small amounts of protein), and an EKG.

If your home blood pressure readings are below 120/85, you are probably normotensive.  A recent study found that accurate home measurements correlate better with cardiovascular risk than office measurements.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati