Harvard Heart Letter

Measuring blood pressure: Let a machine do it

Automating this task could yield more accurate blood pressure readings.

Doctors are notoriously bad at measuring their patients' blood pressure. Nurses are better but many still don't use the correct method. And clinicians who do follow the proper procedure often get a reading that is higher than the person's usual blood pressure. This is called white-coat hypertension — blood pressure that is high when a doctor or other clinician measures it but normal the rest of the time.

Maybe it's time to give the job of measuring blood pressure to machines, not humans. That's the novel — and successful — approach taken by teams in Canada and the Netherlands.

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