Automated devices for measuring BP at high altitude: how accurate are the readings?

November 1, 2016

Igho Onakpoya

Igho Onakpoya

Have you ever wondered whether your blood pressure would be the same if measured at high altitude?

In order to answer this question, we conducted research looking at the results of studies measuring the accuracy of automated BP devices in Tibet, one of the highest regions on earth.

We searched scientific databases to identify studies that have examined how well automated BP devices compare with the “gold standard” in Tibet. Disappointingly, we could only identify two studies with 162 participants. Both studies compared Omron BP devices with the mercury sphygmomanometer; results suggested that the Omron devices are nearly as accurate as the mercury¬†sphygmomanometer for measurement of diastolic blood pressure (i.e., the bottom blood pressure), however they were less accurate at measuring systolic blood pressure (i.e., the top blood pressure). In addition, the two studies differed in how they recruited participants, and how they took separate BP measurements for each patient involved.

Obviously the amount of research conducted in this area is still limited, and we need more studies investigating whether the plethora of automated BP devices give accurate and reliable measurements at higher altitudes.

So: how reliable are blood pressure measurements taken by automated devices at high altitude? For now, it depends on the type or model of device, and how well you can calibrate it.

Read more about this study here.


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