Worth knowing: High blood pressure readings as an artefact of tougher artery walls in older people

Messerli and others found that half of 24 'hypertensive' patients over the age of 65, had 'pseudo-hypertension'. Pseudohypertension is an artefact caused by increased resistance to compression of the artery by the sphygmomanometer cuff because of hardening of the arterial wall. The degree of pseudohypertension, that is the difference between cuff pressure and true pressure, (as measured by direct intra-arterial measurement), ranged from 10 to 54 mm. Hg with a mean of 16 mm. Hg for both systolic and diastolic pressures. This would suggest that about half the patients over 65 whose mean cuff blood pressure was 180/100, had a true blood pressure of less than 165/85, which is normal for their age and would not justify treatment. If these patients' blood pressure were to be lowered by drugs it would not only be inappropriate and wasteful of resources but would also place these people at the risk of side effects and even of death.
From FOLLIES AND FALLACIES IN MEDICINE © Petr Skrabanek & James McCormick 1989, 1992, 1998

First uploaded 2014-03-07 to http://www.big-lies.org. Taken from the book by Skrabanek and McCormick which may be downloadable. HTML Rae West.