A recent study showed that measuring blood pressure using a one-size-fits-all approach may lead to big inaccuracies.
High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and more, and is a leading cause of death in the United States.
However, many people with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition, making accurate blood pressure measurement crucial for diagnosis and treatment.
While clinical guidelines recommend selecting an appropriate cuff size based on the patient’s mid-arm circumference, most research on cuff size and measurement accuracy has been done using mercury sphygmomanometers.
These blood pressure monitors are manually inflated, and blood pressure is determined by listening for arterial sounds through a stethoscope.
In this study, researchers analyzed the impact of cuff size on blood pressure readings using automated blood pressure monitors, which are widely used today.
The team analyzed the blood pressure readings of 165 adults (average age of 55 years, one-third were male, and 68% were Black adults) using a regular adult-sized cuff and an appropriately sized cuff.
They found that a regular adult-sized cuff resulted in notably lower blood pressure readings for those who required a small adult cuff, while it resulted in much higher readings for those who required a large or extra-large cuff.
People who required an extra-large cuff and were measured using a regular cuff were misclassified as having stage 2 high blood pressure.
Those who required a small adult cuff and were measured using a regular cuff were misclassified as not having high blood pressure.
These findings suggest that people who require a large or extra-large adult cuff size may be most at risk for misclassification and potential over-treatment in the clinical setting.
The team says healthcare professionals and the public should recognize the importance of cuff size for accurate blood pressure measurement in the office, kiosk, and home settings.
This is particularly important for communities with a high prevalence of obesity, as accurate cuff sizing may be even more critical in these populations.
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The study was conducted by Jeanne Charleston et al.
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