Blood Pressure Cuffs Bluffs
If you’ve been to the doctor at all, you know they pretty much always have someone take your blood pressure before you go in to see the doctor. If you’re a young person, we suspect they do this mainly to kill some time because the doctor is running late. But for many patients, especially older ones and people with illnesses, the number that comes up is actually important.
That’s why it’s kind of disturbing that 30 to 40 percent of blood pressure cuffs are wrong by 4 mm Hg (pressure units) or more, and 10 percent are off by 10 mm Hg or more. The doctors in that article estimate that consistently high misreadings off by just 5 mm Hg would double the amount of patients being treated for high blood pressure, meaning some people would be gulping down pills they don’t need, suffering side effects for no practical reason and paying for it to boot.
They can’t just bias it one way like the speedometers either, because consistently low misreadings by 5 mm Hg would remove two-thirds of current high blood pressure patients from treatment and leave them in danger without realizing anything was wrong.
Also if you’re fat, using a regular-sized cuff on you could overestimate your blood pressure by about 6 mm Hg.
So you’d be taking drugs you don’t need and paying for them, and you’d be fat.