Blood pressure measurement: clinic, home, ambulatory, and beyond

Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Sep;60(3):449-62. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2012.01.026. Epub 2012 Apr 21.


Blood pressure traditionally has been measured in the clinic setting using the auscultatory method and a mercury sphygmomanometer. Technologic advances have led to improvements in measuring clinic blood pressure and allowed for measuring blood pressures outside the clinic. This review outlines various methods for evaluating blood pressure and the clinical utility of each type of measurement. Home blood pressures and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressures have improved our ability to evaluate the risk of target-organ damage and hypertension-related morbidity and mortality. Measuring home blood pressures may lead to more active participation in health care by patients and has the potential to improve blood pressure control. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring enables measuring nighttime blood pressures and diurnal changes, which may be the most accurate predictors of risk associated with elevated blood pressure. Additionally, reducing nighttime blood pressure is feasible and may be an important component of effective antihypertensive therapy. Finally, estimating central aortic pressures and pulse wave velocity are 2 of the newer methods for assessing blood pressure and hypertension-related target-organ damage.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure Determination / methods*
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Blood Pressure Monitors / statistics & numerical data
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / prevention & control
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Care*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity