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'Monitor blood pressure in healthy patients every three years', GPs told

Systolic and mean arterial blood pressure should be the routine measures of blood pressure in healthy patients, with an optimal interval for rescreening of three years, UK-led research has found.

The cohort study took annual blood pressure measurements from 15,055 healthy Japanese adults, with a mean age of 49 years, who were not taking hypertensive medication.

The reasoned that a true increase of a participant's blood pressure level consists of the average change of the whole group over time, the signal, and the short-term within-person variance around the average change, the noise.

Researchers calculated the ratio of signal to noise, arguing that to be a good monitoring test, the signal needs to be large relative to noise and when the ratio was 1:1 the screening interval was appropriate.

After three years the signal of SBP and MAP equalled the noise of blood pressure measurement in patients with SBP less than 130mmHg and 2 years for those with SBP of 130mmHg or more.

Study leader Dr Osamu Takahashi, a research fellow at the University of Oxford, concluded: ‘Our findings support that SBP or MAP appears to be better long-term monitoring measures than DBP and PP. The optimal measurement interval should be at least three years for healthy adults not taking antihypertensive medications.'

Journal of Human Hypertension 2011, online 4 August

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