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Home blood pressure readings may be off

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CALGARY, Alberta, Oct 24, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- More Canadians are taking their blood pressure by home monitoring, but a new study suggests they may be making some common errors, the CBC reported Sunday.

While up to one-third of people diagnosed with hypertension in Canada's urban areas have a blood pressure monitor at home, the measurements may be inaccurate.

"The monitors are generally quite accurate, the people who use them generally are not," said Dr. Thomas Wilson, a professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. The results were presented Sunday at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Calgary.

In a study of 80 patients who bought digital blood pressure monitors, Wilson and his colleagues found 90 percent of them didn't know they should rest for at least two minutes before taking a reading.

Half knew to place the cuff just above the elbow, and 70 percent didn't know that how they sit could alter the reading. Wilson said a patient's back should be supported with legs uncrossed and the arm resting at heart level.

Otherwise the readings may be too high or too low, and the patient may be given an incorrect dose of medicine or none at all.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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