The impact of pulse pressure on the accuracy of wrist blood pressure measurement

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There is an increasing number of wrist blood pressure measurement devices that successfully passed the validation procedures of the British Hypertension Society (BHS) and the European Society of Hypertension (ESH). It remains unknown, however, whether pulse pressure as a marker of arterial stiffness and vascular ageing affects the accuracy of these devices. An ESH protocol validated wrist device was compared with the upper arm mercury sphygmomanometry in a study population (33 patients, 99 measurements) including a relevant number of subjects with pulse pressure >50 mm Hg (84.8%) and isolated systolic hypertension (27.3%). Mean systolic bias was 10.2 mm Hg with 95% limits of agreement of -13.1 and 33.6 mm Hg, mean diastolic bias was 4.8 mm Hg with limits of agreement of -11.0 and 20.7 mm Hg. The impact of body mass index, age, systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure on the absolute value of blood pressure bias was tested by stepwise multiple regression analysis. The systolic bias significantly depended on pulse pressure, whereas there was no significant effect of the independent variables on the diastolic bias. Separate correlation analysis showed a significant correlation between pulse pressure and both absolute systolic bias (Pearsonr= 0.48,P<0.001) and relative systolic bias (systolic bias divided by systolic blood pressure, Pearsonr= 0.29,P= 0.003). Even well-validated wrist blood pressure devices can show a clinically relevant bias in patients with elevated pulse pressure. Increased arterial stiffness may impair the accuracy of oscillometric blood pressure measurement at the wrist.

Journal of Human Hypertension (2009) 23, 391-395; doi:10.1038/jhh.2008.150; published online 18 December 2008

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