Intended for healthcare professionals


Hypertension diagnosis should be based on ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, NICE recommends

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 24 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5421
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1BMJ

Primary hypertension should be diagnosed only after patients have undergone ambulatory blood pressure monitoring rather than a series of measurements in a clinic, recommend UK guidelines published this week.

In one of the biggest changes to previous guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the updated guideline recommends that people who are found to have a blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher during a clinic visit should be offered ambulatory blood pressure monitoring—measurement of blood pressure at regular intervals throughout the day—to confirm the diagnosis of primary hypertension.

At least two measurements an hour should be recorded during a person’s usual waking hours, and the average should be taken of at least 14 measurements to confirm a diagnosis of hypertension. Home blood pressure monitoring can be an alternative for patients unable or unwilling …

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