According to a new study, doctors have been measuring blood pressure incorrectly and may be missing critical health concerns.
The latest research was presented at the American Heart Association’s hypertension scientific session 2023 in Boston on September 7.
The session focused on current developments in scientific and clinical research on hypertension and its links to heart and renal illness, stroke, obesity, and heredity.
When measured by a doctor, a person’s blood pressure is deemed high if it is 140/90mmHg or higher.
The nearly three-decade study’s researchers looked at how blood pressure when sitting or lying down increased disease risks.
According to the authors, clinicians may miss significant health concerns if patients’ readings are only taken when sitting straight.
According to the researchers, the “autonomic nervous system regulates blood pressure in different body positions; however, gravity may cause blood to pool when seated or upright, and the body is sometimes unable to properly regulate blood pressure during lying, seated and standing positions”.
The scientists took the blood pressures of 15,972 persons either lying down or sitting up to perform their research.
The health of the subjects was then monitored for an average of 25 to 28 years, with the most current data obtained between 2011 and 2013.
According to the researchers from the United States, 16% of those who did not have high blood pressure when seated had it when lying down.
According to the study, three out of every four participants (74%) who had high blood pressure while seated and lying down had a 1.6 times greater risk of future heart failure, a 1.86 times greater risk of stroke, a 1.43 times greater risk of premature death, and a 2.18 times greater risk of coronary heart disease.
Participants who had high blood pressure while supine but not seated had the same hazards as those who had high blood pressure while both sat and supine.
According to the study, changes in blood pressure medication use had no effect on these higher risks in either group.
The authors also urged clinicians to begin taking two readings — one sitting upright and one lying down.
“If blood pressure is only measured while people are seated upright, cardiovascular disease risk may be missed if not measured also while they are lying supine on their backs,” said Duc M. Giao, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and the study’s primary author.
“Our findings suggest people with known risk factors for heart disease and stroke may benefit from having their blood pressure checked while lying flat on their backs.”