The accuracy and reliability of blood pressure (BP) values were evaluated by comparing values obtained with eight automatic or semiautomatic devices designed for home BP measurement (four microphone devices based on the Korotkoff-sound technique and four cuff-oscillometric devices) with those obtained by the auscultatory method, using a stan-dard mercury sphygmomanometer. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) values obtained using the microphone devices coincided well with those obtained by the auscultatory method. However, these devices produced a certain proportion of errors in the measurement of dia-stolic blood pressure (DBP), sometimes resulting in recordings at least 25mmHg higher than those obtained by the standard method. The most frequent causes of this phenomenon were an auscultatory (silent) gap and a weak Korotkoff sound after phase IV. A microphone device using a condenser microphone built into the manometer displayed comparatively good acoustic characteristics for determining DBP. Ail cuff-oscillometric devices demonstrated minimal mean differences and a constant s.d. of mean difference for DBP, with no great differences from the auscultatory method. However, mean differences and s.d.s in SBP measurements using cuff-oscillometric devices were relatively greater than those obtained using some of the microphone devices. Furthermore, the direction of the mean differences in measurements from those obtained with the auscultatory method differed. The error in relation to the auscultatory method tended to be reproducible in the same subjects with both the microphone and the cuff-oscillometric devices. These results indicate that practitioners should select the most appropriate method and/or device by taking into account the factors which may cause measurement error in relation to the auscultatory method in each subject, and should then evaluate, at least once, the difference in BP values obtained using the auscultatory method and using the device. In future, home blood pressure measurement devices for determination of SBP should employ a microphone method, while a method which combines a microphone with a cuff-oscillometric device, thereby compensating for the disadvantage of the Korotkoff-sound signal with the pulse wave signal, should be recommended for measurement of DBP.
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