The quest for accuracy of blood pressure measuring devices

J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2018 Jul;20(7):1092-1095. doi: 10.1111/jch.13279.


The accuracy of blood pressure (BP) measuring devices is fundamental to good practice and scientific research. International guidelines on BP measurement are provided for clinicians who diagnose and treat patients with hypertension, clinical researchers who conduct trials on the efficacy of BP lowering drugs and interventional strategies, epidemiologists who conduct population surveys to determine the demographic consequences of hypertension on society, and researchers who perform meta-analyses on published research to further influence the practice of medicine and the provision of resources. Although the outcomes of the endeavors of all these groups are dependent on the accuracy of BP measurements, the equipment is often of doubtful accuracy and the methodology of measurement is often poorly described and frequently not standardized. Thus, the fundamental element of hypertension evaluation has been largely ignored by both clinical practitioners and scientific researchers. Here, the authors briefly review the development of efforts to improve and validate the accuracy of BP measuring devices and highlight the deficiencies that persist. We conclude that, to protect the public from the serious consequences of inaccurate BP measurements, the following steps are required: (1) regulatory requirement for mandatory independent validation of all BP measuring devices using a universal protocol; (2) accreditation of laboratories for the performance of BP device validations; (3) online evaluation of validation studies with detection of protocol violations prior to publication of results; and (4) establishment of an independent scientific forum for the listing of accurate BP measuring devices.

Keywords: ambulatory blood pressure/home blood pressure monitor; blood pressure devices; clinical management of high blood pressure (HBP); general; hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure Determination / instrumentation*
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory / standards*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Medical Device Legislation / standards
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Antihypertensive Agents