The effect of back and feet support on oscillometric blood pressure measurements

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Abstract

Background/objective

Recommendations to support the back and feet during blood pressure (BP) measurement are not always followed in clinical practice. Our objective was to determine to what extent back and feet support affects mean oscillometric BP measurements.

Participants and methods

Eighty-five consecutive, consenting participants 18 years or older with systolic BP readings 80-220 mmHg and diastolic BP readings 50-120 mmHg and arm circumferences of 25–43 cm were recruited. BP was measured using an Omron HEM 907 oscillometric device. Back and feet support were examined independently. First, while the feet were supported, two sets of three BP readings were taken in random order: one with the back supported and one with the back unsupported. Next, with the back supported, two sets of three BP readings were taken in random order: one with the feet dangling and one with feet supported.

Results

The mean age of the participants was 52.0±20.7 years and the mean arm circumference was 31.0±3.2 cm; 62% were women and 49% had hypertension. The mean BP levels with the back unsupported were slightly higher than those with the back supported (119.8±15.5/69.9±8.9 vs. 119.2±16.4/68.2±8.8 mmHg; difference of 0.7±4.9/1.8±3.0; P=0.21 for systolic and <0.0001 for diastolic comparisons). The mean BP levels with feet dangling were slightly lower than with feet supported (120.3±16.3/72.6±8.9 vs. 121.2±16.1/72.9±8.6 mmHg; difference of −0.9±4.1/−0.3±2.8; P=0.04 for systolic and <0.36 for diastolic comparisons). Systolic BP differences were greater than or equal to 5 mmHg in 34% (back phase) and 23% (feet phase) of the participants.

Conclusion

Provision of back and feet support has a small effect on the mean oscillometric BP. The magnitude of effect is greatest on diastolic BP when the back is unsupported.

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