Last week I shared with you the ONE blood pressure number that REALLY matters when you’re taking your blood pressure at home. If you missed that, click here to catch up.
The truth is when you regularly check your BP with a home cuff you… and your doctor… are likely to get a far more accurate picture.
But what about when you HAVE to have your blood pressure read at your doctor’s office? Many people find their numbers are higher than they expect when they do. And that can be a BIG problem.
If you’re already on blood pressure meds, that could be all it takes to trigger the dreaded lecture about your numbers being too high. Even worse, it could lead to a higher dose of heavy-duty drugs.
If you have borderline hypertension, those higher than anticipated numbers could be the final straw that brings the prescription pad out. And let’s face it, once you start on those pills, there’s no going back.
But what if I told you that there are some common mistakes we ALL make that could be temporarily causing your blood pressure to rise? It’s true.
But the good news is there are some super simple steps you can take to help you get a more accurate reading in your doctor’s office. And I’ll share those with you in just a moment.
6 common causes of FALSE blood pressure readings
If you’re like a lot of folks, the anticipation of your appointment ALONE can drive your blood pressure up on the day of your visit. It’s known as “white coat hypertension,” and it’s a well-documented syndrome. So start to prepare now by keeping track of your numbers for at least a week beforehand.
Write down your pressure twice a day and try to stick to similar conditions each time. Then take your list with you when you go to see your doc so he can see what your typical readings look like.
But of course, white coat hypertension isn’t the only thing that could be artificially elevating your numbers. Following are six mistakes you might be making that could raise your blood pressure.
Remember when your mom used to tell you to sit up straight and stop slouching? Heed her advice. Experts say poor posture could elevate your blood pressure by 6 to 10 points above your TRUE numbers. So sit back in that chair, keep your feet flat on the floor, and straighten your spine.
If you’re the friendly type, you might be tempted to chat while getting your pressure checked. Don’t. Having a conversation could raise your blood pressure reading up to 10 points.
3. Putting off peeing:
After checking in at the front desk, head to the restroom. A full bladder could send your numbers soaring from 10 to 15 points, experts say.
4. Keeping your sleeve down:
Taking a blood pressure through your shirt sleeve can give a highly inaccurate reading. Some nurses or techs will insist it is fine, but it could reportedly raise your numbers from 5 to a staggering 50 points. Wear a short-sleeve shirt or one with loose sleeves you can raise up.
If you find you tend to fidget when you are nervous or bored, remind yourself to sit still while your blood pressure is being taken. Moving around too much can give a reading up to 10 points higher than it actually is. While crossing your legs can drive it up by 8 points.
6. Letting your arm hang:
Your arm should be close to level with your heart. Letting it hang down by your side could lead to up to 10 points being added to your blood pressure. Instead, support your arm on a counter or the arm of the chair.
The bottom line is your “high” blood pressure could be bogus. So next time you head into the doctor’s office, be sure to keep these six tips in mind to get a more accurate reading.
And should you find out your blood pressure IS still high, drugs aren’t your only option. This ancient Aztec staple can beat drugs for bringing down blood pressure. Talk to your doc about giving it a try.
Oh, and one last bit of BP advice. Make sure the cuff being used to measure your blood pressure is the right size. If you aren’t a Skinny Minnie, a small cuff can raise your blood pressure anywhere from 2 to 10 points.