You know the routine. Every time you visit the doctor’s office, they take out the cuff to test your blood pressure.
But for folks with pressure problems that simple routine can be filled with anxiety.
If you have high blood pressure, you may find yourself bracing for a lecture if your numbers are up. And if you’re battling borderline hypertension, you may live in fear of a reading which finally makes your doctor pull out the prescription pad.
9 blood pressure reading mistakes you’re making
But it turns out there are some common mistakes you could be making which may temporarily boost your numbers. And an inaccurate blood pressure reading could be the difference between having to take heavy duty BP drugs or simply adopting a few easy lifestyle changes.
Following are nine ways you can avoid accidentally boosting your blood pressure during your next reading.
1. Zip your lips:
If you’re a Chatty Cathy or Talkative Timothy, resist the urge to speak while you’re having your reading. According to experts, talking while having your blood pressure taken can add up to 10 points to your numbers.
2. Stop fidgeting:
Fidgeting and moving around while your blood pressure is being taken can send your pressure climbing by up to 10 extra points. Sit still during the test and you will get a more accurate result.
3. Don’t be cross:
Sit with both feet flat on the ground. Crossing your legs can send your BP climbing by two to eight points during your blood pressure reading.
4. Think naked:
Don’t worry; I’m not going to ask you to strip down for a blood pressure reading. But make sure to wear short sleeves or a loose fitting top you can pull the sleeves up on.
The office staff may say it’s fine to place the cuff over your clothing. But gently insist they don’t. Blood pressures taken with sleeves down can be anywhere from five to 50 points over your accurate number.
5. Perfect posture:
A supportive chair won’t just help you sit up nice and straight. It can also help make sure you get your true blood pressure numbers.
Sit all the way back in the chair with your feet flat on the floor (or a stool). Otherwise, your reading may be 6 to 10 points above your correct numbers.
6. Be supportive:
Make sure your arm is being supported either by a counter or by the chair. Your goal should be to have it essentially level with your heart. If you allow it to hang down at your side, or try holding it with your other arm, you can expect a reading that is 10 points higher than it really is.
7. Size matters:
Make sure the blood pressure cuff is the right size for your arm. If you’re a larger person, but a small cuff is used it can add anywhere from two to 10 points to your numbers.
8. Take a potty break:
Make a pit stuff in the restroom before you have your blood pressure taken. Experts say a full bladder can raise your reading from 10 to 15 points.
9. Skip the test:
No, I’m not actually suggesting you stop checking your blood pressure. But if you suffer from “white coat hypertension” having your readings done in the office can give you inaccurate numbers.
For some folks the stress of a doctor’s visit can give them consistently high readings of 140/90 mm Hg or above. But at home they’re in the normal range.
If you suspect white coat hypertension is behind your elevated numbers, investing in a good home cuff is worth it. Check your numbers once a week and keep a record of them for your doctor. (And make sure to follow the eight guidelines above when you take it.)
Getting an accurate blood pressure reading is important. It may even mean you can avoid blood pressure medications, and their sickening side effects, altogether.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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