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Hypertension misdiagnoses prevalent across the country

Most people feel anxiety when they have to visit the doctor. Whether it is for a routine check-up or a visit to a specialist, most doctors in Texas will begin their patient visits by performing some vital statistic checks on the patient's weight, heart rate and blood pressure. While some patients may be nervous about what their doctors will say about their health, others may simply fear visits to medical professionals.

The anxiety that many people experience during medical visits can directly affect the results of their blood pressure tests. Such tests are the primary tools that doctors utilize to diagnose hypertension, a disease that can directly contribute to serious conditions such as strokes and heart disease. Since hypertension is often diagnosed based upon these one-shot readings, the anxiety a patient experiences may exacerbate his blood pressure to such an extent that it appears a perfectly healthy patient suffers from hypertension.

The reverse of this trend is also possible. Some individuals experience calm when at the doctor's office and their blood pressure readings appear normal, even though they may have high blood pressure readings at different times of the day. Based upon the major fluctuations that naturally happen in a person's blood pressure and the stresses the person may experience when at the doctor's office, hypertension is a relatively common misdiagnosis for Americans.

Although the sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff, is a generally reliable piece of medical equipment, it was invented more than 120 years ago and better medical devices now exist for more accurately diagnosing hypertension. New devices can track a patient's blood pressure over the course of an entire day to develop a more accurate standard of that individual's blood pressure level. Though patient interference can cause such new technology to experience problems, many doctors and hospitals do not utilize the new devices due to the costs associated with purchasing and learning to use them.

Getting an accurate blood pressure reading from a person's doctor is a critical step in maintaining personal health. While a misdiagnosis of hypertension may cause a person to take medications that are unneeded, a failure to diagnose hypertension may keep a person from getting the necessary medical treatment needed to avoid further serious complications. To avoid either fate, patients may consider talking to their medical professionals to develop comprehensive care plans that include getting accurate blood pressure readings.

Source: The Washington Post, "Better technology shows that too many people are treated for high blood pressure," Craig Bowron, June 3, 2013

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