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Home blood pressure monitors aid BP control

Home blood pressure monitors can help people keep their blood pressure in check and possibly cut down on medication – but only if patients and their doctors put those home readings to good use.

Home blood pressure monitors aid BP control

Home blood pressure monitors can help people keep their blood pressure in check and possibly cut down on medication – but only if patients and their doctors put those home readings to good use.

The researchers studied 37 clinical trials that included a total of 9,446 men and women from America with high blood pressure. In each, researchers randomly assigned some patients to use home blood pressure monitors and the rest to stay with office-based measurements. Most of the studies followed the participants for a few months to one year.

Overall, study participants using home monitors saw their blood pressure dip by 2 to 3 points, and most of the studies came out in favor of home monitoring over office-based measurements alone - though the differences were generally small. Patients using home monitors were also more likely to reduce  their medication . In one of the larger trials, for example, 51 of 203 home-monitor patients reduced their number of medications, versus 22 of 197 patients without home monitors.

Researchers said the findings should encourage people with high blood pressure to invest in home monitors and home monitoring tends to work better when it is part of a general plan to lower medications if readings are good. The researchers, however, pointed out that the patients should use the monitors only as often as their doctors recommend, and not become obsessive about checking their numbers as obsessive checking could just spur anxiety, which could, in turn, boost blood pressure.
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