Elevated blood pressure readings are more common in EDs than in physician's offices, according to a recent National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief.
For the study, an NCHS researcher analyzed data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for ED visits from 2007 to 2008. According to the report, a patient's blood pressure was severely elevated when systolic blood pressure was 160 mm Hg or higher and diastolic pressure was 100 mm Hg or higher. Meanwhile, moderately elevated blood pressure was defined as having systolic readings of 140 to 159 mm Hg or a diastolic reading of 90 to 99 mm Hg.
The findings showed that blood pressure was severely elevated at 16.3% of ED visits and moderately elevated at 27.2% of ED visits. Meanwhile, blood pressure was severely elevated at 6.8% of primary care office visits and moderately elevated at 20.2% of office visits.
Noting that elevated blood pressure readings may suggest underlying hypertension, the report's author said ED visits "could provide opportunities to address elevated blood pressure through patient education, initial treatment, and referral to primary care as deemed clinically appropriate" (Fiore, MedPage Today, 9/3).