High blood pressure is the number one killer in America today, when you consider it the root cause of virtually all cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes). The reason hypertension is such an insidious killer is that it is completely asymptomatic. Many people are convinced that they can tell when their blood pressure is high. They are wrong, It is impossible to tell what the blood pressure is by any subjective measure.
The only way to know your blood pressure is to measure it.
I can do it in the office. You can do it at home. Not all portable home blood pressure monitors are reliable, though. That’s why I recommend that patients who monitor their blood pressure at home bring their machine into the office to calibrate them with my equipment.
When my patients check their blood pressure at home, I also ask them to write down the results and to bring their record along with them to office visits. It’s the best way to see how well their blood pressure medication is really working.
Which brings me to a memorable moment:
Patient in her 70s with hypertension, with somewhat elevated office readings. I asked her to monitor her pressures at home, which she did. She then brought her machine and her readings in with her one visit.
I was perusing her numbers, and noticed that they were generally pretty good; 110s to 120s over 70s to 80s. Except for one or two evening readings of 154/98 and 160/100. Before I could so much as raise my eyebrows, she pointed them out herself.
“You can’t count those,” she said. “Those were while I was watching Bill O’Reilley.”