Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring is imperative for accurate BP readings

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BP can differ in various settings due to which it must be monitored every day

New Delhi, 01st May 2018: Research by the American Heart Association has indicated that crossing your legs or even talking can have a significant impact on your blood pressure reading and identifies seven common errors that can lead to inaccurate blood pressure readings. Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the most prevalent health conditions today. About 1 in every 5 Indians suffers from this, making it imperative to keep a regular check.

Studies indicate that readings may differ based on the settings in which they are taken, a condition called “White Coat hypertension”. The need of the hour is to understand the reasons for this and the importance of Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM). ABPM is one of the ways to monitor blood pressure regularly on the move as part of your daily routine.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India, said, “A person’s BP varies throughout the day. Even under optimal conditions, many patients are apprehensive when seeing a doctor. This causes an acute rise in BP. About 20% to 30% of patients with hypertension in the clinic are normotensive outside the clinic. This is called ‘white coat’ or isolated office hypertension and should be suspected in any patient with marked high BP in the absence of end-organ damage or with normal ambulatory BP taken at work or at home. The presence of white coat hypertension can be diagnosed by 24-hour ABPM or self-recorded readings or by having a nurse measure the BP. The white-coat effect can persist for years. For monitoring therapy, the BP should be measured at roughly the same time each day and the relation to meals and medications noted.”

In ABPM, a digital machine takes your blood pressure by inflating a cuff around your upper arm and then slowly releasing the pressure. This can be worn on your belt with the cuff staying on your upper arm for 24 hours. It notes BP readings at regular intervals throughout the day and must be kept on throughout the night.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “An accurate BP measurement can go a long way in preventing heart disease and stroke eventually as well. High BP is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases and if kept under control, can reduce the burden of associated health conditions. Lifestyle changes such as reducing sodium and alcohol intake, healthy eating, and regular exercise can help in managing BP.”

Some measurement mistakes that can lead to high BP are as follows.

  • Having a full bladder – This can add 10-15 points to your reading. You should always empty your bladder before measuring blood pressure.
  • Slouching, unsupported back/feet – Poor support when sitting can increase your reading by 6-10points. Make sure you’re in a chair with your back supported and feet flat on the floor or a footstool.
  • Unsupported arm – If your arm is hanging by your side or you have to hold it up during a reading, you may see numbers up to 10 points higher than they should be. Position your arm on a chair or counter, so that the measurement cuff is level with your heart.
  • Wrapping the cuff over clothing – This common error can add 5-50 points to your reading. Instead, be sure the cuff is placed on a bare arm.
  • When the cuff is too small – Your pressure may read 2-10 points higher. Ensure a proper fit. Your healthcare provider can help you with this.
  • Sitting with crossed legs – While polite, it could increase a blood pressure reading 2-8 points. It’s best to uncross your legs as well as ensure your feet are supported.
  • Talking – Answering questions, talking on the phone, etc. can add 10 points. Stay still and silent to ensure an accurate measurement.

Always eat fully cooked meat

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Dr KK Aggarwal

President Heart Care Foundation of India

The sale of meat has fallen in Kolkata following rumors that chemically processed carcass meat was being sold to the public. As a result, the price of fish increased markedly due to increased demand.

The carcass meat had been treated with chemicals like calcium propionate, aluminum phosphate, aluminum sulfate and other nitrites and nitrates to pass it off as fresh meat. It has been suggested that lead sulfates may also have been used.

This unregulated use of chemicals to keep the meat fresh at the same time retaining its odor and flavor is dangerous for human health and may even be potentially fatal.

The various infections that may spread via meat include Salmonella, E. coli (enteropathogenic type), Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia enterolytica, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, Mycotoxin producing moulds and Norovirus. Gastrointestinal anthrax follows ingestion of contaminated and undercooked meat.

Here are some tips for safe meat eating:

Always eat fully cooked meat i.e. it should have been cooked all the way through.
Poultry, pork, offal, including liver, burgers, sausages, rolled joints of meat and kebabs should be cooked thoroughly before eating. The color of the meat alters when it is cooked. Any pink meat still left means undercooked meat.
When cooking burgers, sausages, chicken, and pork, cut into the middle to check that the meats no longer pink, the juices run clear and its steaming hot throughout.
Safest option: Fully cook food in your oven and then put the cooked food on the barbecue for a short time so the flavor can develop. This can be an easier option if youre cooking for a lot of people at the same time.
The two main risk factors if youre only cooking on the barbecue are: undercooking meat and spreading germs from raw or undercooked meat on to food thats ready to eat. Ensure that the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking, as this means theyre hot enough; frozen meat is fully defrosted before you cook it and you turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly.
“When in doubt, cook it out”. Always follow this dictum for safe meat eating.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri AwardeeVice President CMAAOGroup Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA