Woman taking blood pressure at home

Older adults with hypertension aren’t conducting at-home blood pressure tests like they should, according to a new study.

The study found that only 48% of adults between 50 and 80 who take medication to control hypertension are routinely checking their blood pressure at home, despite 62% of those polled who said their physician encouraged them to do so. The results were part of the University Of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Researchers from the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation polled 1,247 people who said they were either taking a medication to control their blood pressure or had a chronic health condition that requires blood pressure control. That specifically referred to a history of stroke, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or hypertension. 

More than half of the respondents said they owned a home blood pressure monitor, but some said they seldom use it. Those who used the devices reported a wide variation in how often they checked their blood pressure. Only about half reported sharing the information with their healthcare providers.

The study’s authors noted that monitoring blood pressure is associated with lower blood pressure and is more cost-effective to the healthcare system. The findings underscore the importance of determining why at-risk patients aren’t checking their blood pressure regularly and why providers aren’t being more proactive in recommending they do so. The American Heart Association says home monitoring of high blood pressure for all people with hypertension can help healthcare providers determine whether treatments are working.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly half of adults (116 million) have hypertension, but less than a quarter of them have the condition under control.