June 29, 2011
Joseph Diamond, MD
The measurement of blood pressure (BP) is perhaps the most frequent assessment that results in a change of medical therapy. Nevertheless, the accuracy of this measurement is quite prone to error due to poor measurement technique, as well as insufficient measurements to reflect an individual’s true blood pressure. A new study in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that using multiple readings increases measurement accuracy.
It is well known that a single BP measurement obtained by a physician during a clinic visit rarely reflects the patient’s true blood pressure. Ambulatory BP monitoring (a technique where the patient wears a BP monitor at work and home for a period of time) shows that an individual’s true blood pressure is often quite different then that obtained in the office.
This study confirms the need to improve both measurement technique (e.g., research technique produces different measurements than clinic technique) and the number of measurements obtained so that a therapeutic decision to start or change medication is based on more accurate information.