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Tiny errors in measuring blood pressure can have dramatic effects on the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, new research concludes.

Variations of 1mmHg in readings of diastolic blood pressure correspond to diagnostic errors of -15 to +23 per cent, according to the analysis of UK and Canadian blood pressure surveys.

Over-assessing diastolic blood pressure by 5mmHg would increase the number of patients diagnosed with hypertension by 132 per cent.

A similar error in systolic blood pressure would in-crease diagnoses by 43 per cent.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, professor of clinical epidemiology and primary care at St George's Hospital, south London, said using arbitrary cut-offs and single measurements would lead to 'treating disease that doesn't exist'.

He advised GPs to 'throw your inaccurate aneroid sphyg- momanometers out of the window and go electronic'.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney and published in the journal Blood Pressure Monitoring (October).

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