Since high blood pressure is so common – it affects 1 in 3 Americans – you’d think that doctors would have foolproof ways of diagnosing and treating it.
Not so, says Samuel J. Mann, M.D., a nationally known hypertension specialist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
In his new book,- Hypertension and You: Old Drugs, New Drugs and the Right Drugs for Your High Blood Pressure, Dr. Mann reveals how hypertension is often misdiagnosed and mismanaged.
Among his disturbing conclusions:
Improper measurement is extremely common. Inaccurately high measurements in the doctor’s office and in patients’ homes can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of hypertension. This results in treatment of people who don’t need it.
Newer drugs are not always better drugs. As patents have lapsed on many safe and effective older drugs, manufacturers are pushing newer and more-profitable medications that can produce side effects such as overwhelming fatigue and even cognitive impairment.
Combination therapy is often pointless. If one drug fails to produce results, doctors tend to pile on more drugs. Since different patients need different drugs, why not simply discontinue the ineffective drugs until an effective regimen is found?
“The good news is we have a lot of medications that work,” Dr. Mann tells Newsmax Health. “In almost every case, we should be able to get blood pressure under control without side effects.”
Botched Blood Pressure Readings. Dr. Mann says doctors and nurses routinely make mistakes while taking blood pressure measurements that can cause falsely high readings.
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Too-quick measurement. At the doctor’s office or at home, you should always sit still for at least five minutes before a reading is taken to allow your blood pressure to normalize. If you don’t, the readings can be 10-20 mm higher than they should be.
Talking during a measurement. Keep quiet! If you chat with your doctor or nurse during a measurement, it can increase your reading by 20 mm.
Not accounting for “white-coat hypertension.” About 20 percent of patients experience this phenomenon, in which their blood pressure readings are abnormally high simply because they’re at a doctor’s office. Because this condition is so common, Dr. Mann advises most of his patients to monitor their blood pressure at home.
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