Objective: To provide health care professionals with guidelines on the use of blood pressure self-measurement.
Methods: Recommendations were devised after consideration of expert reviews and guidelines, personal files, international standards documents, personal communication with investigators and the results of a MEDLINE search (1966-94) using the term 'blood pressure determination'.
Benefits, harms, costs: Self-measurement of blood pressure can be used to detect white coat hypertension, monitor changes in blood pressure closely, more rapidly achieve desired blood pressure goals, increase adherence to antihypertensive therapy and improve patient self-reliance. However, self-measured blood pressure readings may be misleading because there is insufficient normative, prognostic and outcome data and because some patients may not take accurate measurements. The use of self-measurement of blood pressure has a relatively small direct cost and may result in an overall reduction in treatment costs.
Recommendations: Self-measured blood pressure readings can be a valuable supplement to clinic (or office) blood pressure readings. However, self-measurement is appropriate neither for patients who are physically or mentally incapable of accurate assessment and interpretation of readings nor for those who do not want to participate. Patients who self-monitor blood pressure require careful training in blood pressure measurement and instruction on the recording and interpretation of blood pressure readings. Advice to patients using monitoring equipment must take into account the needs and abilities of the patient. Although only a few electronic devices for the self-measurement of blood pressure have met recommended performance standards, their use may be more appropriate for some patients and the training requirements fewer than if manual devices are used.
Validation: The guidelines of several expert groups were examined in the preparation of these recommendations. The recommendations were presented at the World Conference on Hypertension Control in 1995 and were reviewed by the parent societies of the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control.