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Blood Pressure Screening

British Columbia Specific Information

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. This damage can cause a heart attack, stroke or other health problems. Your blood pressure reading is based on two measurements called systolic and diastolic. The systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) are written as a ratio, for example (120/80 mmHg). A reading of more than 140/90 mmHg taken at your healthcare provider’s office may indicate high blood pressure. This figure is different for people with diabetes whose blood pressure should be below 130/80 mmHg. People suffering from other illnesses will have different target normal values. For more information on hypertension, visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Hypertension Canada.

Healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your blood pressure and improve your health. For information on healthy eating for lowering your blood pressure, see:

You may also call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian, Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can Email a HealthLinkBC Dietitian.

Topic Overview

Hypertension Canada recommends regular blood pressure testing for adults.footnote 1

Your doctor can let you know how often you should get your blood pressure checked. It may depend on what your blood pressure is and your risk for heart disease. You can get your blood pressure checked during any routine medical visit.

Tests and programs for high blood pressure vary widely in reliability. Results from automated blood pressure testing, such as you might do at a grocery store or pharmacy, may not be accurate. Any high blood pressure measurement discovered during a blood pressure screening program needs to be confirmed by a doctor or another health professional.

Rechecking blood pressure

Your doctor can let you know how often you should get your blood pressure checked. It may depend on what your blood pressure is and your risk for heart disease. You can get your blood pressure checked during any routine medical visit.

For more information, see the topics High Blood Pressure and Home Blood Pressure Test.

Making sure that blood pressure is actually high

After measuring your blood pressure, your doctor may ask you to test it again when you are home.footnote 1 This is because your blood pressure can change throughout the day. And sometimes blood pressure is high only because you are seeing a doctor. This is called white-coat hypertension. There are also people who appear to have normal blood pressure when measured in the doctor’s office, but they have high blood pressure in other situations. This is called ‘masked’ hypertension. To diagnose high blood pressure, your doctor needs to know if your blood pressure is high throughout the day.

So your doctor may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home to make sure that it actually is high. You may get an ambulatory blood pressure monitor or a home blood pressure monitor. These devices measure your blood pressure several times throughout the day.

References

Citations

  1. Leung AA, et al. (2017). Hypertension Canada's 2017 guidelines for diagnosis, risk assessment, prevention, and treatment of hypertension in adults. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 33(5): 557–576. DOI: 10.1016/j.cjca.2017.03.005. Accessed December 28, 2017.

Other Works Consulted

  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2013). Screening for primary hypertension in children and adolescents. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspshypechld.htm. Accessed January 11, 2014.
  • Weber MA, et al. (2013). Clinical practice guidelines for the management of hypertension in the community. Journal of Clinical Hypertension. DOI: 10.1111/jch.12237. Accessed December 19, 2013.

Credits

Adaptation Date: 9/22/2021

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC