Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects approximately 140 million persons in the Western Hemisphere. Until now there has been no standard approach to measuring blood pressure that has been accepted for use in research studies in all the countries of the Americas.
A Hemisphere-wide group called the Pan American Hypertension Initiative (PAHI) has developed a solution to this problem. PAHI is recommending an 11-step procedure to accurately and uniformly measure blood pressure in research studies and community programs. This new approach will enable many countries to join together to survey large groups of people, in order to assess and compare general trends in the prevalence of high blood pressure. This will be useful for comparisons of prevention and education programs and ultimately for helping improve those programs and the health of the people of the Americas.
The proposed standard is described in an English-language article in the November 2003 issue of the "Revista Panamericana de Salud Pblica/Pan American Journal of Public Health," a journal published monthly by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). That issue of the "Revista/Journal" also includes a Spanish-language translation of the article.
An English-language editorial published in that same "Revista/Journal" issue notes that without a uniform and consistent manner to measure blood pressure, "research results and program plans may not be transferable or applicable to other groups or nations. In addition, some research data cannot be compared or the results pooled, thus losing important opportunities for evidence-based information on national and hemispheric trends and impacts of national prevention, education, and control efforts."