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Home blood pressure monitors lead to spike in ER visits

July 8, 2016

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Dr. Clare Atzema, a scientist in the Trauma, Emergency & Critical Care Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute, discusses her latest study looking at the number of people who went to an Ontario emergency department (ED) and received a high blood pressure diagnosis. While the number of these visits increased from less than 16,000 in 2002 to nearly 26,000 in 2012, only 8% of those who came to the ED were admitted, suggesting that too many people are seeking unnecessary emergency medical care.

Atzema speculates that the reason might be related to results from an earlier study in which she found that nearly 50% of people who came to an ED because of high blood pressure concerns did so after getting a high reading at home. She notes that unless a person is experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, nausea or shortness of breath, they should make an appointment to see their family doctor instead of visiting the ED.

Groups like the Canadian Hypertension Education Program and the American Heart Association encourage people to track their blood pressure with home monitors but Atzema says more education and awareness is needed to help people understand what to do with those readings.

» Read the full story on The Globe and Mail

» Read about Dr. Atzema’s research on what happens to patients who are discharged from the ED with a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation

Dr. Clare Atzema