The measurement of blood pressure: sitting or supine, once or twice?

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In 166 patients attending a hypertension review clinic, we compared supine and sitting blood pressure measurements and first and second measurements (1 min apart) in each position to determine whether any differences seen might have implications for the routine measurement of blood pressure in these patients, as a group or as individuals. Measurements were made with the Copal UA-251 semi-automated sphygmomanometer.In the group there was no significant difference between the first and the second diastolic measurements. The first systolic measurement was on average 3-4 mmHg higher than the second in both positions. Mean supine systolic pressures were 2—3 mmHg higher and diastolic pressures 2-3 mmHg lower than the corresponding sitting pressures.In individual subjects there were substantial disagreements between successive measurements in both positions and between positions. However, these differences would not have influenced blood pressure management in more than a few instances. We suggest that two measurements should routinely be taken, and the average recorded, particularly when the average exceeds 155/90 mmHg.

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