Dr Rhian M. Touyz
© McGill University Health Centre
A major challenge in blood pressure measurement is achieving accurate and reproducible results, while finding practical solutions for the clinical setting at the same time. ‘One can’t emphasize enough the importance of accurate blood pressure measurement,’ she stressed. Not only is it essential to reliably diagnose hypertension, but also to predict and manage cardiovascular risk. The value affects when and how a patient is treated, and it reflects on how well a patient responds to therapy.
However, blood pressure is far from static, but is influenced by a patient’s physiology, circadian rhythm and posture, measurement environment and method, as well as many additional factors. For example, a patient who has just had a meal will present with a slightly lowered systolic BP reading due to ingestion, while caffeine intake, exposure to cold or the mere presence of an observer is known to raise blood pressure.1 It is vital to take this huge variability into account, Touyz pointed out.