Background: Hypertension is the most commonly diagnosed medical condition in the USA. Unfortunately, patients are misdiagnosed in primary care because of inaccurate office-based blood pressure measurements. Several US healthcare organizations currently recommend confirming an office-based hypertension diagnosis with ambulatory blood pressure monitoring to avoid overtreatment; however, its use for the purpose of confirming an office-based hypertension diagnosis is relatively unknown.
Methods: This descriptive study surveyed 143 primary-care physicians in Oregon with regard to their current use of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
Results: Nineteen percent of the physicians reported that they would use ambulatory blood pressure monitoring to confirm an office-based hypertension diagnosis, although over half had never ordered it. The most frequent indication for ordering ambulatory blood pressure monitoring was to investigate suspected white-coat hypertension (37.3%). In addition, many of the practices did not own an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring device (79.7%) and, therefore, had to refer patients to other clinics or departments for testing.
Conclusion: Many primary-care physicians will need to change their current clinical practice to align with the shift toward a confirmation process for office-based hypertension diagnoses to improve population health.