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Cuff Size Affects Accuracy of Blood Pressure Measurements

Overestimation of blood pressure with use of a cuff that was too small misclassified 39 percent of participants as having hypertension

WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Blood pressure (BP) cuff size influences the accuracy of BP measurements, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2022 Scientific Sessions, held from March 1 to 4 in Chicago.

Tammy M. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a randomized crossover trial involving 165 community-dwelling adults (mean age, 55 years) with two sets of triplicate BP measurements using a regular adult cuff and an appropriate cuff based on midarm circumference.

The researchers found that among those who required a small adult cuff, use of a regular cuff resulted in significantly lower readings (systolic BP, −3.8 mm Hg; diastolic BP, −1.5 mm Hg). In contrast, use of a regular cuff was associated with significantly higher readings among persons who required a large or extra-large cuff (systolic BP, 4.8 mm Hg; diastolic BP, 19.7 mm Hg). Overestimation of BP due to undercuffing misclassified 39 percent of those with hypertension (BP ≥130/80 mm Hg), while overcuffing-linked underestimation of BP missed 22 percent of those with a hypertensive BP.

“It’s important for health care professionals and the public to recognize the importance of cuff size for the clinician’s office, kiosk, and home blood pressure measurement,” Brady said in a statement. “For example, cuff size may be even more important in communities with high prevalence of obesity, since large or extra-large cuff sizes may provide more accurate blood pressure readings.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the publishing industry.

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