Objective: To determine how many self-measurements of blood pressure (BP) should be taken at home in order to obtain a reliable estimate of a patient's BP.
Design: Participants performed self blood pressure measurement (SBPM) for 7 days (triplicate morning and evening readings). In all of them, office blood pressure (three consecutive readings) and 24-h ambulatory blood pressure were obtained as well. Average SBPM values, obtained from several combinations of readings, were correlated with the results of ambulatory blood pressure measurement (ABPM). In addition, we assessed whether certain patient characteristics would influence such correlations.
Setting: Patients were recruited at hospital or general practice.
Patients: A total of 216 untreated hypertensive patients.
Results: The average SBPM value calculated from day 3 to day 7, omitting the first measurement of each morning and evening session, gave the best correlation with 24-h ABPM (r = 0.70). However, similar results were obtained from a SBPM value averaged from day 3 until 5 without the first measurement of each triplicate session. Overall, younger patients had significantly better correlations than older ones. Women had significantly better correlations with ABPM than men for systolic morning and daytime SBPM, whereas men had significantly better correlations for daytime and evening diastolic SBPM (P < 0.001). In addition, all correlations increased with lower systolic office blood pressure measurement (OBPM) values.
Conclusions: A minimum number of 5 days of measurement is recommended to obtain a reliable estimate of a patient's usual BP. On each day, three consecutive morning and evening measurements should be performed. For calculating the average SBPM, the first 2 days and the first measurement of each triplicate measurements should be discarded. Moreover, patient characteristics may have an impact on the number of necessary self-measurements. However, because adhering to these recommendations will make SBPM a time-consuming procedure, this type of measurement should be performed only when a decision about starting or changing antihypertensive therapy is needed or in the case of special patient groups.