GPs are overdiagnosing and overtreating hypertension in normal patients because of defective testing equipment, according to a report in GP magazine (4 January 1993).
A survey of 300 GPs by the London School of Tropical Medicine found that most of them were using equipment which falls below standards set by the British Hypertension Society.
Quite simply, the cuffs they were using to wrap around the patient's arm to measure blood pressure were too small to give accurate readings. A too small cuff will overstate a patient's blood pressure.
The mean length of the cuff used on normal weight or lean people was 11cm shorter than the recommended length. Only 7 per cent of respondents were able to say what the correct sizes should be.