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Blood Press Monit. 2014 Feb;19(1):14-8. doi: 10.1097/MBP.0000000000000016.

Does the accuracy of blood pressure measurement correlate with hearing loss of the observer?

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aDepartment of Biomedical Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul bDepartment of Biomedical Engineering, University of Ulsan, Ulsan, Korea.



The auscultatory method is influenced by the hearing level of the observers. If the observer has hearing loss, it is possible to measure blood pressure inaccurately by misreading the Korotkoff sounds at systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Because of the potential clinical problems this discrepancy may cause, we used a hearing loss simulator to determine how hearing level affects the accuracy of blood pressure measurements.


Two data sets (data set A, 32 Korotkoff sound video clips recorded by the British Hypertension Society; data set B, 28 Korotkoff sound data acquired from the Korotkoff sound recording system developed by Hanyang University) were used and all the data were attenuated to simulate a hearing loss of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 dB using the hearing loss simulator. Five observers with normal hearing assessed the blood pressures from these data sets and the differences between the values measured from the original recordings (no attenuation) and the attenuated versions were analyzed.


Greater attenuation of the Korotkoff sounds, or greater hearing loss, resulted in larger blood pressure measurement differences when compared with the original data. When measuring blood pressure with hearing loss, the SBP tended to be underestimated and the DBP was overestimated. The mean differences between the original data and the 25 dB hearing loss data for the two data sets combined were 1.55±2.71 and -4.32±4.21 mmHg for SBP and DBP, respectively.


This experiment showed that the accuracy of blood pressure measurements using the auscultatory method is affected by observer hearing level. Therefore, to reduce possible error using the auscultatory method, observers' hearing should be tested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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