Reliability of automated blood pressure devices used by hypertensive patients

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SUMMARYAutomated blood pressure (BP) devices are used by many hypertensive patients in Hong Kong, with or without medical advice. At two community clinics, we invited hypertensive patients aged between 40 and 70 years who used such a device to fill in a questionnaire and to have four sets of BP measurements, automated and mercury, at two visits. Of 290 hypertensive patients 120 fulfilled the criteria, and 73 of these agreed to participate.53 devices measured arm BP, 21 measured forearm BP. The agreement between the mercury sphygmomanometer and the automated devices was poor, with average differences of 9.5 mmHg for systolic and 9.4 mmHg for diastolic and no clear advantage for either site of measurement. As a means of screening for BP >140/90 mmHg the sensitivity of the automated devices was 81% and the specificity was 80%. There were large variations in how often and under what circumstances the devices had been used. One-fifth of the devices had been acquired on medical advice but only 11% of the participants were aware of the three important conditions for operating such devices.Discussion of automated devices, their role and proper use, should now be part of routine hypertensive care.

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