Tracking Blood Pressure Helps Gauge Health Risks

Medically Reviewed

Tracking your blood pressure over time may provide a better picture of your health than a single blood pressure reading.

A study found that measuring blood pressure from middle age onward provides a better indication of whether a person will have a stroke or die from non-stroke-related causes. It also could lead to earlier interventions to prevent such occurrences.

The study, published in the May 2016 issue of Hypertension involved 6,745 participants, ages 55 to 106, living in a suburb of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who were followed for more than two decades. A maximum of five blood pressure readings per patient was taken during the trial.

People whose blood pressure climbed steeply with time and those with high blood pressure that decreased after age 65 had the highest risk of stroke and dying from non-stroke diseases up to the age of 80.

Understanding a patient's blood pressure trajectory pattern can help physicians determine an effective treatment strategy, the study authors wrote. They noted that only 33 percent of people who had fast-climbing blood pressure were using blood pressure–lowering medication at the end of the trial.

The problem of undertreatment can be avoided if blood pressure, which can change dramatically over a few years, is measured regularly. So be sure to talk with your doctor about setting a schedule for measuring your blood pressure—you can even do it at home.

Read more about how a simple blood test may predict hypertension.