Hypertension or poor technique?
Raised blood pressure might be an artefact of inaccurate measurement, warn Gulraj Matharu and Simon Howell
- By: Gulraj Matharu, Simon Howell
An accurate measurement of blood pressure is essential for making a correct diagnosis of hypertension and guiding management of the patient. Measuring blood pressure is a cheap, quick, non-invasive test and is one of the most commonly performed screening tests in clinical practice. As a medical student you will be asked to measure a patient's blood pressure many times. Accurate measurement depends on accurate equipment and good technique.
Hypertension is defined as 140/90 mm Hg or more by the British Hypertension Society. It affects an estimated one billion people worldwide and is implicated in about 7.1 million deaths a year,1 most notably from myocardial infarction and stroke.2 The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that antihypertensive drugs should be started in patients with persistent blood pressure of 160/100 mm Hg or more and in patients with a blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg who have a raised