Measuring Blood Pressure: Diagnosis of Hypertension Cannot Be Made On A Single Measurement

Most doctors will make the diagnosis of high blood pressure from a single measurement in the office. A recent study from a VA medical center looked at blood pressures obtained during routine outpatient clinic visits compared to blood pressures measured by electronic home monitors. Regardless of the setting, averaging the measurements from multiple readings provided more accurate readings. The optimal number of readings was approximately four to five.

Bottom Line: In this study, BP readings varied substantially when measured at home or in a medical clinic. Although we don’t clearly know which approach to measuring BP correlates best with cardiovascular outcomes, the data convincingly demonstrate that a single BP measurement is inadequate.

Journal Watch General Medicine July 12, 2011

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