PURPOSE: Out-of-office blood pressure (BP) measurements are essential for the diagnosis and monitoring of hypertension. Current guidelines vary in their recommendations on the protocol for home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM). We aimed to assess the number of blood pressure (BP) measurement days needed for a reliable estimation of true home BP (the expected BP level over time) and hypertension status, using the European guideline-based 7-day HBPM protocol as a reference. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data from 567 adults who performed a 7-day HBPM were analysed. Blood pressure was measured twice daily (morning and evening readings) using the Microlife Average Mode (MAM), which takes a weighted average of 3 consecutive BP readings. The variability of average BP for an increasing number of measurements was assessed using a linear mixed model including a random intercept per individual and correlated residuals. The reliability of home hypertension status was assessed by the κ statistic. RESULTS: Mean home BP of the population was 143 ± 16/84 ± 10 mm Hg. On average, the first BP measurements gave the highest values which then decreased over time. Systolic BP in the morning was systematically lower than systolic BP in the evening (142 ± 17mm Hg versus 144 ± 17 mm Hg, p <0.05). The average of 7 twice-daily MAM BP measurements was at most 5.2/3.3 mm Hg higher and 9.5/4.8 mm Hg lower than the true home BP for 95% of the individuals. Reducing this protocol to 3 days increased this variability by 1.5/1.0 mm Hg and 4.8/2.3 mm Hg, respectively. For diagnosing home hypertension, there was good agreement with a minimum of 4.5 days of HBPM (ĸ-statistic 0.88; 95% Confidence Interval: 0.82-0.94). CONCLUSION: Twice-daily MAM BP measurements for 3 consecutive days provide a reliable estimate of home BP. At least 4.5 consecutive days of HBPM are required for a reliable diagnosis of home hypertension.
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