Taking blood pressure readings every doctor’s visit might be bad medicine

Off the cuff

I’ve talked a lot about the dangers of overdiagnosis in these updates. Usually, with respect to cancer screening, and the serious risks of unnecessary treatment.

But that’s not the only area where debates over screening protocol are taking place.

A group of researchers recently followed more than 400 patients for five years. And they found that the current convention of taking blood pressure readings at every doctor’s visit–which for many is several times a year–might be bad medicine.

Blood pressure is a notoriously fickle number that can easily rise due to temporary anxiety or improper reading technique. And as it turns out, screening at every visit results in significantly more false positive hypertension diagnoses than simple annual readings would.

It also makes it more difficult to diagnose cases that truly require treatment.

I have to say, I’m glad we’re talking about this. The fact is, accurate diagnosis of high blood pressure is just as important as accurate cancer diagnosis. Because at the end of the day, the stakes can be just as high.

But the risks of overdiagnosis are very real, too. They may not include radical surgery or chemotherapy. But they often do involve prescriptions for blood pressure medications that you just don’t need.

Medications like beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics. All of which, at one time or another, have been linked to issues like breathing trouble, weight gain, mineral depletion, and even increased cancer risk.

If putting away the blood pressure cuff can help to put an end to this massive overmedication, I’m all for it. Especially since the best remedies for hypertension–regular exercise and my New Hamptons Health Miracle–don’t require a prescription pad to become a part of your life today.

I covered this topic in-depth in last October’s issue of my newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives. For more tips on how to beat high blood pressure without medication, consider subscribing today.

That article–and all of my past articles–are available to subscribers in the online archives at any time. It’s life-saving information at your fingertips. You won’t be sorry you signed up.

Doyle, Kathryn. “Fewer blood pressure screens may be more effective.” Reuters Health. 22 March 2013.