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Automated 'oscillometric' blood pressure measuring devices: how they work and what they measure

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 13:15 authored by James SharmanJames Sharman, Tan, I, Stergiou, GS, Lombardi, C, Saladini, F, Butlin, M, Padwal, R, Asayama, K, Avolio, A, Brady, TM, Murray, A, Parati, G
Automated 'oscillometric' blood pressure (BP) measuring devices (BPMDs) were developed in the 1970s to replace manual auscultatory BP measurement by mercury sphygmomanometer. Automated BPMDs that have passed accuracy testing versus a reference auscultatory sphygmomanometer using a scientifically accepted validation protocol are recommended for clinical use globally. Currently, there are many thousands of unique automated BPMDs manufactured by hundreds of companies, with each device using proprietary algorithms to estimate BP and using a method of operation that is largely unchanged since inception. Validated automated BPMDs provide similar BP values to those recorded using manual auscultation albeit with potential sources of error mostly associated with using empirical algorithms to derive BP from waveform pulsations. Much of the work to derive contemporary BP thresholds and treatment targets used to manage cardiovascular disease risk was obtained using automated BPMDs. While there is room for future refinement to improve accuracy for better individual risk stratification, validated BPMDs remain the recommended standard for office and out-of-office BP measurement to be used in hypertension diagnosis and management worldwide.


Publication title

Journal of Human Hypertension






Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

Macmillan Building, 4 Crinan St, London, England, N1 9Xw

Rights statement

© 2022. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions

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