CareerNursing Blogs

Are Your Blood Pressure Readings Accurate? New Study Sows Doubt


Measuring a patient’s blood pressure is a routine task that every nurse knows like the back of their hand, but a new study suggests these readings aren’t always accurate. Blood pressure readings taken in the office may be much higher than when taken at home. It’s a small change that’s affecting millions of Americans all over the country.

Why Blood Pressure Readings Aren’t Always as They Appear

The American College of Cardiology, the CDC, and other medical organizations say that a normal blood pressure reading should be below 120 over 80 mmHg. As you probably know, there’s a right way and a wrong way to take a person’s blood pressure.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has clear guidelines, including that the cuff should be placed over the bare skin, the patient shouldn’t be talking, the arm should be supported with the elbow at the forearm’s level, back supported, legs uncrossed, and both feet flat on the floor.

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The CDC says about 45% of Americans have high blood pressure, and just 24% of them have it under control. In 2018, hypertension caused or contributed to around a half-million deaths in the U.S.

That’s why it’s so important for Americans to keep an eye on their blood pressure, whether they’re measuring it by themselves at home or having a nurse do it at the office.

The new study from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) shows that blood pressure readings taken during routine clinic appointments were consistently higher than those taken during the study’s trial, which carefully adhered to AHA guidelines.

That’s not all.

In 2015, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent body of medical experts that studies disease prevention and evidence-based medicine, found that 15% to 30% of people with high blood pressure readings at routine clinic appointments may have lower readings outside of that setting.

The “White Coat Syndrome”

Medical experts say there may be several reasons for all these inaccuracies. Many patients may experience what’s known as the “white coat syndrome”, which marks a change in BP readings when the patient is in the presence of a medical professional.

They suggest some patients may have rushed to get to their appointment, navigating parking, subways, and public transportation, leading to a spike in BP readings.

Despite these variations, experts say it’s clear that many clinics and providers aren’t following the AHA guidelines.

Kevin Hwang, an associate professor of general internal medicine at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas, has been studying these inaccuracies and getting an earful from patients.

“I’ve had a lot of patients come to me and they will say, ‘Hey, one reason I wanted to talk with you is because I got my blood pressure measured and they said it was 160 over 100, but I had no previous symptoms,’” Hwang explains.

“A lot of times, they will say, it was in a dentist’s office, they were lying back in a dentist’s chair or it was done in a pharmacy where they didn’t rest, and their back was unsupported. By the time they are seen in our office, it’s 20-30 points lower.”

Hwang said around 50% of patients reported lower BP readings at home compared to clinical settings. “It’s a mixed bag when you look at research, depending on the thickness of the sleeve, age of patient and other factors,” he said. “For example, it may not make a difference in young patients but does so in older patients.”

Paul Whelton, Show Chwan professor of global public health at Tulane University’s School of Public and Tropical Medicine, says these inaccuracies can have serious implications when it comes to preventing stroke and heart attack.

“It leads to a lot of error, and most of the time, the error is going to be an overestimation of the true average blood pressure, but sometimes it’s underestimation and there’s no way to deal with that,” Whelton said.

He suggests medical providers with more time on their hands than nurses, such as technicians and medical assistants, should be trained to record the patient’s blood pressure. “Usually people who are pretty busy don’t take the time,” he said.

Ray Thomas, 67, is one of the many Americans that fears going to the doctor’s office. He says he can feel his heart beating out of his chest when he goes in for an appointment. To ensure his BP readings stay accurate, he now asks the nurses on staff for some time to rest before they measure his blood pressure.

Japan’s Nurses Say “NO” to Hosting the Summer Olympics

Previous article

Nurse Says Racist Comments Led to a Toxic Workplace, and a Federal Commission Agrees

Next article

You may also like


  1. Your style is unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this

  2. I’m gone to convey my little brother, that he should also
    pay a visit this web site on regular basis to obtain updated from
    newest reports.

  3. Nice blog here! Also your website loads up fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  4. This post will assist the internet visitors for setting up new website
    or even a blog from start to end.

  5. I delight in, cause I found just what I was looking for. You have ended my 4 day long hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  6. What i do not understood is if truth be told
    how you’re no longer really a lot more well-preferred than you may be now.
    You are so intelligent. You recognize therefore considerably
    relating to this subject, made me for my part believe it from so
    many various angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved unless it’s something to accomplish with Girl gaga!

    Your personal stuffs great. All the time deal with it up!

  7. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make
    your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos
    to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  8. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my viewers would appreciate your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

  9. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger,
    and I was wondering your situation; we have developed some
    nice practices and we are looking to trade methods with others, why not shoot me an email if interested.
    cheap flights cheap flights

  10. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the internet the
    simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked
    while people consider worries that they just do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out
    the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal.
    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks asmr asmr

  11. Good day! I know this is somewhat off topic
    but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at
    alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.
    quest bars quest bars

  12. Thanks for every other magnificent article. Where else could anyone get that type of
    information in such a perfect approach of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I
    am at the search for such info. ps4 ps4 games

  13. Hi there to all, the contents present at this web site are genuinely awesome for people
    knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows. scoliosis surgery scoliosis surgery

  14. You actually make it appear so easy together with your presentation but I to find this topic to be really something
    which I believe I might by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely huge for me.
    I am looking ahead to your next submit, I’ll attempt to get the
    hang of it! scoliosis surgery scoliosis surgery

  15. Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice even as you amend your web site, how could i
    subscribe for a weblog web site? The account helped me a appropriate deal.
    I were a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered shiny clear idea quest bars quest bars

  16. Google

    The time to read or visit the material or web pages we’ve linked to beneath.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Career