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Hypertension measurements lower when done by nurses

New research has found doctors' readings of blood pressure are higher than measurements made by nurses at the same time appointment. 

Researchers from the University of Exeter conducted a systematic review, looking at previous studies to identify adults reporting mean blood pressures measured by doctors and nurses at the same visit. 

Based on 15 studies, it was revealed that nurse-measured blood pressures were lower compared with doctors' measurements. 

However, doctors' readings were more frequently used to diagnose white coat hypertension - an elevation in blood pressure above normal levels, which is related to being in a medical setting.

The 'white coat effect' occurs in 75% of patients with hypertension in tertiary care settings, and may be universal. 

In the British Journal of General Practice, the researchers conclude: “The risk of misclassification and inappropriate treatment with inaccurate initial blood pressure readings remains a concern if doctors are systematically recording higher bloog pressures than nurses. 

“Little [a fellow researcher] proposed a decade ago that 'It is time to stop using high blood pressure readings documented by GPs to make treatment decisions.' The present findings support this statement.” 

The full study is available to view on the BJGP website