A Pharmacist's Guide to OTC Therapy: Blood Pressure Monitors

Author: Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh

In the United States, approximately 32% of individuals aged 20 years and older have hypertension. Furthermore, 30% of individuals with hypertension are not even aware that they have hypertension.1 Routine monitoring of blood pressure, along with proper treatment intervention, can significantly improve patient outcomes as well as decrease an individual's risk of the consequences of untreated hypertension. A wide variety of blood pressure monitors are available for consumers to select from for routine monitoring of their blood pressure in the comfort of their homes. Pharmacists can be a fundamental resource of information for those individuals attempting to select a blood pressure monitor for self-monitoring.

Pharmacists can assist patients in the selection of a blood pressure monitor by assessing the needs of the patient, such as ease of use, reliability, and accuracy, as well as cost. Pharmacists should determine if the patient clearly understands the testing procedure in order to ensure accurate readings. Digital monitors are the most common choice for home use because of the ease of use and accuracy. Patients should be encouraged to compare the accuracy of their readings with their primary care doctor's equipment when possible.

By educating patients on the importance of routine self-monitoring of blood pressure, pharmacists can assist patients in becoming proactive about the management of their blood pressure.

Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in Haymarket, Va.

For a list of references, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: References Department, Attn. A. Rybovic, Pharmacy Times, Ascend Media Healthcare, 103 College Road East, Princeton, NJ 08540; or send an e-mail request to: arybovic@ascendmedia.com.