A new study finds that 20% of patients who’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure actually don’t have it.
This means more than 10 million Americans are taking hypertension medications for no reason.
How can this be?
Researchers say the main reason is that many doctors are using outdated blood pressure monitors that give false high readings.1
Scientists conducted a survey of 769 family doctors. More than half (54%) were using outdated manual devices.
Recommended for You: 15-Minute Test Shows the Earliest Stage of Heart Disease
No needles, no fasting, no wires all over your body, 24 hour monitor, or physical exertion required. All you have to do is wear a blood pressure cuff and a finger sensor. The lower your score, the more at risk you are for heart disease.
A 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association proved it. 520 high-risk heart patients took the test. The people who got the lower scores ended up having a higher rate of what they call “adverse heart events” later. Like cardiovascular death, heart attack, angina, stroke, etc.
Discover how to find out your risk, HERE.
Automated devices provide a more accurate reading. They help to eliminate “white coat syndrome.” This is when patients show higher blood pressure readings in the doctor’s office than they do outside a medical setting.
Dr. Janusz Kaczorowski is a researcher and professor in the Department of Family and Emergency Medicine at Université de Montréal. He is the lead author of the study.2
“Clinicians should use automatic devices,” he said. “They are more expensive, but more precise.”
Manual measurements can be accurate if doctors take the time to use them correctly. But few do, Dr. Kaczorowski said.
“Manual measurement is acceptable if it’s properly done, but that’s often not the case,” he said.
Old-fashioned manual blood pressure meters are often called aneroid meters or sphygmomanometers. They look like this:
To get an accurate reading from a manual instrument, a health care practitioner should let you sit still for at least 12 minutes beforehand, said Dr. Kaczorowski.
“We know that the average visit to a family doctor lasts 10 minutes,” he noted. So blood pressure readings with manual devices often end up being falsely high.3
Automated blood pressure monitors come in many shapes and sizes. They are usually battery powered. Here’s one example:
Even if a patient tests high in the doctor’s office with an automated device, they should not be put on blood pressure drugs right away, Dr. Kaczorowski said.
To confirm the high reading, patients should use an automated device at home. If the readings are still high, only then should medication be considered, he said.
The study was published recently in the journal Canadian Family Physician.
Can You Get Off Your BP Meds?
Drugs are not the only solution to high blood pressure.
The most common advice is to lower salt intake. But researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine found eating less sugar is more important.
When subjects were put on a high-sugar diet for three weeks, their systolic blood pressure (the top number) went up by 7 points. Their diastolic reading (the bottom number) went up by 6 points. Salt intake didn’t affect their blood pressure.
Certain foods and drinks have been found to dramatically lower blood pressure. Unlike pharmaceuticals, they have no side effects.
Nature’s Blood Pressure Medicine
- Berries. One study found that eating a handful of blueberries once a week lowers the risk of high blood pressure by 10%. The active ingredients in berries are anthocyanins. They’re powerful antioxidants abundant in blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
- Hibiscus Tea. Researchers found that one daily cup of herbal tea containing the hibiscus flower lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by over 15 points in just four weeks. You can buy hibiscus tea at most health food stores and online. Like berries, hibiscus flowers are loaded with anthocyanins.
- Eggs. For decades, doctors warned that eggs were bad for heart health. But now the medical world has reversed itself and encourages egg eating. Egg whites contain a peptide known as RVPSL. One study showed that RVPSL blocks the action of an enzyme that raises blood pressure. Buy eggs from organic, free-range chickens.5
- Beet Juice. An Australian study had subjects drink either beet juice or a placebo. Scientists found that within hours of drinking beet juice, subjects’ blood pressure dropped 5 points. The placebo group had no drop in blood pressure. Subsequent studies confirmed the effect. Beet juice is high in naturally occurring nitrates, which open blood vessels.
Editor’s Note: Something strange was happening to pilots training to fly F-16 fighter jets.
The ones who went into the program with elevated blood pressure were coming out a few weeks later with normal, healthy readings. They hadn’t taken any medications. Their diets hadn’t changed. They hadn’t made any changes to their exercise regimens.