How more accurate blood pressure readings can help improve North Dakotans' heart health
Consider the last time you had your blood pressure (BP) taken. Did your provider talk to you during the actual measuring?
We hope not.
Here's why: Talking while taking a patient's blood pressure can affect the results, as can other simple yet critical factors. An inaccurate BP could mean you are one of five U.S. adults with undetected high BP, known as the "silent killer." Plus, your doctor won't even know to provide information to help you lower and manage it.
Spend a minute to discover what you can do to ensure an accurate BP reading.
North Dakota has a particular interest in more accurate BP measurement for these key reasons:
- In 2016, diseases of the heart were the leading cause of death in North Dakota
- Nearly one in three (30.4 percent) N.D. adults have been diagnosed with high BP
- Four in five (80.6 percent) N.D. adults take antihypertensive medication
In addition, hypertension is the most common chronic condition cared for in U.S. primary care settings, and $46 billion is spent on high BP every year in the United States.
"How to take a BP"
Since accurate BP measurement is critical to effectively diagnosing and treating high BP and related health conditions, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) partnered with BCBSND to develop and offer a one-hour "how to take a BP" training refresher for new—and seasoned—providers. Of course, these professionals have learned best practices in taking a BP, but it's early in their schooling, and equipment, research and protocols may have improved since that time.
BCBSND has now held 20 trainings for 339 health professionals, including 115 dental assistants who attended a training at the ND Dental Assistant's Annual Meeting. Of participants who said they did not have advanced knowledge on BP measurement before the training, 85 percent reported an increase in their knowledge, and of those reporting an increase, 79 percent indicated their knowledge is now advanced level (up from 26 percent before training).
Here is some of the information that health professionals review in the training:
- How accurate BP measurement helps manage high BP
- Updated information on high BP in North Dakotans
- Basic lifestyle recommendations to lower BP, including weight reduction, lowering sodium in diet, alcohol use considerations, physical activity and stress reduction
- Tools for education, workflow and approved protocol to better identify and manage patients with high BP
- Proper BP cuff sizing, since BP cuff sizing errors account for approximately 84 percent of all inaccurate BP readings
- Common factors that affect BP measurement accuracy, such as patients who talk or are talked to, need to use the restroom, recently smoked a cigarette, or have their legs crossed
- Step-by-step, hands-on demonstration of taking accurate BP
Schedule a free BP training in your organization
Email Tiffany to schedule a free Blood Pressure Protocol training in your organization.
Change is good: Improving N.D. heart health
More than 70 percent of those who have participated in the training and responded to a survey say that they made a change to their practice because of the information they learned during the training. These changes will continue to produce more accurate BP readings so that as needed, health professionals can provide patients with treatment to lower and control high BP.
Do you have high BP?
In healthy adults, North Dakota now classifies 130/80 as Stage 1 hypertension. Talk with your nurse, doctor and other health care professionals to ensure you get an accurate BP and find out steps you can take to lower and manage your BP.