Measuring blood pressure for decision making and quality reporting: where and how many measures?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: The optimal setting and number of blood pressure (BP) measurements that should be used for clinical decision making and quality reporting are uncertain. OBJECTIVE: To compare strategies for home or clinic BP measurement and their effect on classifying patients as having BP that was in or out of control. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a randomized, controlled trial of strategies to improve hypertension management. ( registration number: NCT00237692) SETTING: Primary care clinics affiliated with the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. PATIENTS: 444 veterans with hypertension followed for 18 months. MEASUREMENTS: Blood pressure was measured repeatedly by using 3 methods: standardized research BP measurements at 6-month intervals; clinic BP measurements obtained during outpatient visits; and home BP measurements using a monitor that transmitted measurements electronically. RESULTS: Patients provided 111,181 systolic BP (SBP) measurements (3218 research, 7121 clinic, and 100,842 home measurements) over 18 months. Systolic BP control rates at baseline (mean SBP<140 mm Hg for clinic or research measurement; <135 mm Hg for home measurement) varied substantially, with 28% classified as in control by clinic measurement, 47% by home measurement, and 68% by research measurement. Short-term variability was large and similar across all 3 methods of measurement, with a mean within-patient coefficient of variation of 10% (range, 1% to 24%). Patients could not be classified as having BP that was in or out of control with 80% certainty on the basis of a single clinic SBP measurement from 120 mm Hg to 157 mm Hg. The effect of within-patient variability could be greatly reduced by averaging several measurements, with most benefit accrued at 5 to 6 measurements. LIMITATION: The sample was mostly men with a long-standing history of hypertension and was selected on the basis of previous poor BP control. CONCLUSION: Physicians who want to have 80% or more certainty that they are correctly classifying patients' BP control should use the average of several measurements. Hypertension quality metrics based on a single clinic measurement potentially misclassify a large proportion of patients. PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Powers, BJ; Olsen, MK; Smith, VA; Woolson, RF; Bosworth, HB; Oddone, EZ

Published Date

  • June 21, 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 154 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 781 - 788

PubMed ID

  • 21690592

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1539-3704

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.7326/0003-4819-154-12-201106210-00005


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States