According to new research, people have been measuring their blood pressure all wrong. Instead of sitting, measuring blood pressure while lying down could offer more accurate readings. At Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola lays out the details of the new data, writing:
Research presented at the September 2023 American Heart Association’s (AHA) Hypertension Scientific Sessions in Boston revealed surprising findings about how taking blood pressure while lying down may offer a more accurate reading.1
High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart disease, which are two leading causes of death in the U.S. Getting accurate blood pressure measurements gives you the opportunity to take strategic steps to lower your risk.
In 2023, the CDC2 reported that roughly 119.9 million people, or 48.1% of American adults, have high blood pressure, but only 22.5% of those have the condition under control. High blood pressure costs the U.S. roughly $131 billion each year, a data point that was averaged over 12 years from 2003 to 2014.
Managing high blood pressure is understood to be a vital part of heart health. Unfortunately, the first recommended step is often prescription medication, yet many lifestyle changes, including addressing insulin and leptin resistance, can help most people normalize their blood pressure without resorting to drugs that come with a long list of adverse side effects.
It is crucial to start with an accurate blood pressure reading you can use as a comparison as you make lifestyle changes that can help reduce your blood pressure. The featured study3 indicates that blood pressure readings taken lying down or at night may be a better predictor of heart disease than when you’re sitting or standing.
Supine Blood Pressure May Predict Heart Disease Better
The data presented at the AHA meeting revealed that readings taken when an individual was lying down (supine) could more accurately predict a person’s future stroke, heart disease and death risk. The results presented are preliminary findings that have not been peer-reviewed or published. The senior researcher, Dr. Stephen Juraschek, is a general internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.4
According to the current clinical guidelines by the AHA and American College of Cardiology, a normal blood pressure reading for adults is 120/80 mmHg.5 Blood pressure readings fluctuate throughout the day. Juraschek notes that the “gold standard” for blood pressure accuracy is wearing a 24-hour monitor to get an overall understanding of daily blood pressure fluctuations and an average reading.
In the past, Juraschek said that research has revealed night blood pressure monitoring is the best predictor of cardiovascular disease, but repeated monitoring at night is difficult and often disrupts sleep, which can have an adverse effect on blood pressure.
The goal of the featured study was to determine whether simply lying down during the day may simulate blood pressure readings taken during sleep and thus help identify those who are at higher risk for heart disease. The researchers began by comparing readings in the same individual while they were seated and then lying down.
Data were gathered from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Community Study in which participants’ blood pressure measurements were taken in both the seated position and lying down. Researchers used 11,369 participants whose average age was 54 and older and then followed them for a median of 25 to 28 years.6
The research team divided the data into four groups based on the blood pressure readings. The first data group had normal blood pressure when seated and lying down, the second had high blood pressure only while seated, the third had high blood pressure only when they were lying down, and the fourth data group had high blood pressure while seated and lying down.
Nighttime May Be the Best Time
During the following 25 to 28 years of collecting data, the research team found the group with high blood pressure while seated and lying down were consistently at higher risk for heart disease. However, they also found that the group that had high blood pressure only while lying down had a similar risk of heart disease and stroke to those who had high readings when they were seated and lying down.
More specifically, people with high blood pressure only when lying down “had a 53% higher risk of coronary heart disease, 51% higher risk of heart failure, 62% higher risk for stroke, 78% higher risk of fatal coronary heart disease, and 34% higher risk of death from all causes compared to participants with normal blood pressure in both positions.”7
The results of the study imply that taking blood pressure in the clinic while the patient is lying down may help reveal high blood pressure that would otherwise be missed and highlight the importance of identifying blood pressure measurements in all body positions.
It is important to note that the study participants were lying down for 20 minutes before their blood pressure was measured, which is far longer than generally is possible during a typical office visit. Taking your blood pressure at home in the evening when you can lie down for 20 minutes may offer a better assessment of your blood pressure measurement.
Juraschek notes that with more information, high blood pressure could be identified in people who may have been “flying under the radar” or may help to identify people who do not need treatment.8
Read more here.
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