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Study suggests hypertension is often misdiagnosed

Thousands of New Jersey residents take medications each day to control their blood pressure, but a recent Canadian study suggests that as many as one in five of them may be taking these powerful drugs unnecessarily. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 75 million Americans have been diagnosed with hypertension, and the agency says that treating the condition costs the country about $46 billion each year.

Hypertension is diagnosed when a person's diastolic pressure surpasses 90 millimeters of mercury and his or her systolic pressure is higher than 140 millimeters of mercury. However, scientists from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre believe that the manual equipment usually used to take these measurements is highly unreliable. Patients often become tense when their blood pressure is being monitored, which can skew test results and lead to unnecessary prescriptions.

Only 43 percent of the 769 family physicians polled said that they used electronic blood pressure testing devices. While these devices have been developed only recently and are far more expensive than manual ones, they are also more sophisticated and precise. Researchers say that their widespread adoption could help both doctors and patients by preventing misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment.

Being incorrectly diagnosed with hypertension can have a profound impact on a person's daily life. The side effects of prescription blood pressure drugs such as chlorthalidone, triamterene and bumetanide range from minor aches and pains to serious conditions like gout and impotence. People who have been diagnosed as hypertensive may also be told by their doctors to adjust their lifestyles and curtail any stressful activities. Personal injury attorneys may pursue civil remedies on behalf of patients who have been misdiagnosed due to doctor error.Source: The American Heart Association, Types of Blood Pressure Medications, Jan. 12, 2017

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