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The Role of ABPM in Diagnosing Hypertension

Mature Man being consulted by a Physician

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Weighs In

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 67 million American adults (31%) have high blood pressure – that’s 1 out of every 3 adults. Depending upon the severity of the condition, typically diagnosed by in-office BP measurements, blood pressure medication and/or lifestyle modifications may be prescribed.

Although in-office BP measurements are typically used to diagnose hypertension, several studies have shown that other diagnostic options are far more reliable - specifically, the use of a 24-hour, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring device (ABPM).

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is now taking action on this information by recommending that an ABPM be used before a diagnosis of hypertension is made, except in cases where immediate therapy is necessary for the wellbeing of the patient. Released on December 22, 2014, this recommendation is part of an update to a statement released in 2007, which recommends the use of ABPM to diagnose hypertension after examining the diagnostic accuracy of office BP measurement, ABPM and home blood pressure monitoring. This support of ABPM as an essential diagnostic resource has caught the attention of many healthcare professionals and news outlets.

“Evidence shows that ambulatory blood pressure monitoring more accurately predicts the risk for strokes, heart attacks, and other health outcomes than blood pressure screening done in a medical setting,” said Mark Ebell, a family physician and USPSTF member. He also states that confirming a diagnosis of hypertension with ABPM is an important step to ensure that the condition is diagnosed correctly.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has publicly stated that they are currently reviewing the draft recommendation and that they will make updates to their own 2007 recommendation once the USPSTF has published their final recommendation later this year

To learn more, read the full draft statement released by USPSTF.


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