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Free blood pressure machines: Are they accurate?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-pressure/AN00567
- With Mayo Clinic emeritus hypertension specialist
Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.read biographyclose window
Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.Sheldon Sheps, M.D.
Dr. Sheldon Sheps, emeritus professor of medicine and former chair of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension in the Department of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, has been with Mayo Clinic since 1960.
Dr. Sheps, a Winnipeg, Manitoba, native, is board certified in internal medicine and specializes in hypertension and peripheral vascular diseases. He developed a multidisciplinary approach with specially trained nurses, dietitians, technicians and educators to help form a team approach to the treatment of patients with abnormal blood pressure.
"I have always believed in involving the patient and family in their health care," Dr. Sheps says. "I have asked for their understanding of the illness and issues and for participation in decisions. The Web is a natural extension of that, and now many more people can be informed."
Dr. Sheps chaired the sixth working group, and he participated in the fourth, fifth and seventh groups that developed the then-latest guidelines for hypertension under the auspices of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). He helped write the latest American Heart Association (AHA) report on blood pressure measurement. He chaired an AHA group that produced an online accreditation for blood pressure measurement for health professionals.
Dr. Sheps has co-authored books, newsletters, CD-ROMs and other Mayo Clinic health information material. He joined Mayo Clinic's Web team in 1998. He was medical editor-in-chief of both editions of the "Mayo Clinic on High Blood Pressure" book; the last edition was published in 2003. He was also medical editor-in-chief of "Mayo Clinic 5 Steps to Controlling High Blood Pressure," published in 2008.
In addition, Dr. Sheps was section editor for each of the first three editions of "Hypertension Primer" for the American Heart Association.
Dr. Sheps was also chairman of the Science Base Subcommittee and the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, and he was a consultant to the Hypertension Initiative of the World Health Organization. In 1997, he was honored with the Individual Achievement Award on the 25th anniversary of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program of NHLBI. In 2009, he was honored as a Distinguished Mayo Alumnus.
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Free blood pressure machines: Are they accurate?
How accurate are the blood pressure machines in grocery stores and drugstores?
from Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.
Not accurate enough to make health decisions regarding your blood pressure.
The blood pressure machines that you can use free of charge in many grocery stores, drugstores and other locations may have been accurate when first installed. But in order to stay accurate, they must be maintained and recalibrated. Generally, no information is available to the user regarding the care of these devices. As a result, the reading you get has limited value because it may be incorrect.
In addition, the blood pressure cuffs on these do-it-yourself machines are often too small to get an accurate reading on a number of people with high blood pressure. To ensure accuracy, the inflatable portion of the cuff should cover at least 80 percent of the upper arm.
It's best to have your blood pressure checked in a medical facility or in a community screening program with trained staff. Before diagnosing or treating high blood pressure, you'll need to have your blood pressure measured in your doctor's office at several separate visits.
If you need to check your blood pressure more frequently, your doctor can instruct you on the best way to monitor your blood pressure from home. Home blood pressure monitoring can be an inexpensive, accurate way to get regular blood pressure readings.Next question
L-arginine: Does it lower blood pressure?
- Viera AJ, et al. Hypertensive patients' use of blood pressure monitors stationed in pharmacies and other locations: A cross-sectional mail survey. BMC Health Services Research. 2008;22:216.
- Lewis C. Checking up on blood pressure monitors. FDA Consumer Magazine. 2002. http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/features/2002/502_hbp.html. Accessed Feb. 28, 2011.
- Graves JW. Blood pressure measurement in public places. American Family Physician. 2005;71:851.
- Pickering TG, et al. Recommendations for blood pressure measurements in human and experimental animals. Circulation. 2005;111:697.
- Home monitoring of high blood pressure. American Heart Association. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=576. Accessed Feb. 28, 2011.