November 10, 2023

Millions misclassified due to improper blood pressure measurements

Editor's Note

Several million patients may be misclassified as having hypertension because they are not sitting according to recommended guidelines when measurements are taken, according to new findings in The Lancet published September 14. 

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology advise that when health care professionals take blood pressure (BP) measurements patients are seated in a chair with their back supported and feet flat on the floor. Their arm with the BP cuff should be supported at heart level. 

Many healthcare professionals take BP measurements when a patient is on the examination table, and their legs are hanging and back and arm are unsupported. 

The researchers looked at 150 enrolled patients and found that when guidelines are followed, it resulted in substantially lower BP values than improper positioning.

Patients being misclassified with hypertension can lead them to receiving treatment they don’t need and which can have unwanted side effects. 

The findings emphasize the importance of following guidelines to ensure accurate blood pressure measurements and avoid unnecessary treatment.


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