On the 23rd of August, Professor Michael Steffen of the University of Cologne (Köln) handed over five ambulatory blood pressure (BP) monitoring machines which will be used to supplement the Lighthouse Tenofovir Cohort (LighTen Study) currently taking place at the Lighthouse Centers of Excellence.
The machines, which are valued at approximately €8,000 in total, record an average of 70 to 80 blood pressure measurements in 24hrs when worn by an individual, and have been introduced to not only improve diagnosis of hypertension but also help identify risks for adverse events that clients with hypertension may be faced with.
Lighthouse clinics, like most antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinics in Malawi, use the standard procedure of measuring the blood pressure of clients on clinic appointment dates at vital signs stations, but as said by Prof Steffen during the ceremony, one measurement alone cannot accurately tell if a client is indeed hypertensive. He explained that ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) using a series of measurements done as the client performs day to day activities, would better determine if clients have true hypertension. This would reduce the number of white coat hypertension cases; cases in which a client exhibits a blood pressure level above the normal range at the clinic due to anxiety or tense of being in the clinical setting but not truly hypertensive.