Curated by: Emily Willingham, PhD
May 10, 2018Takeaway
- BP measurement at home and in the clinic is often fraught with casual error, such as having feet dangling, an unsupported back and arm, and arm below heart level.
- The most recent hypertension guidelines stress accurate measurement.
- The American Heart Association offers a handy visual for patient or clinic use or display, covering steps to take before, during, and after BP measurement.
- How many of these common mistakes do you make?
- Cuff over clothing: this can add 50 mmHg to a reading, depending on the clothing thickness.
- No resting before measurement: the patient should sit quietly for 5 minutes.
- Using a cuff that is the wrong size: too small can mean adding 2-10 mmHg to a measurement.
- Talking: the act of listening can raise BP by as much as 10 mmHg.
- Any measurement that yields an inaccurately high BP can mean a patient who suddenly has a hypertension diagnosis, especially with cutoffs now at 130/80 mmHg.
- Care should always be taken before giving someone a chronic disease label.
- In 1 BP challenge of 160 medical students during an American Medical Association meeting, students had to perform 11 elements of the process correctly.
- Only 1 student did so.
- Average was only 4 of the 11.
- No effect of first- vs fourth-year or spec