How To Avoid Mistakes in Measuring High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure monitors are used to determine the pressure that the blood exerts on the arterial walls.  It lets you know whether you are suffering from low or high blood pressure.  Having high blood pressure can result in damaged blood vessels.  This can lead to a heart attack, stroke or kidney disease.  Low blood pressure causes dizziness in some individuals.

Blood pressure readings are made up of systolic (higher) and diastolic (lower) numbers.  Normal blood pressure is when your systolic number is lower than 130 while your diastolic number is less than 85.  You have high blood pressure when your reading is 140 over 90.  There are no symptoms to high blood pressure.  If there are symptoms, these symptoms are often associated with other illnesses or medical conditions. This is why it is often called the silent killer. 

Incorrect readings can do damage to a person’s health.  Mistakes in measuring high blood or low blood pressure should be avoided at all costs.

  • Check the blood pressure monitor.  Make sure that the blood pressure cuff is in good shape and can be locked in place.  The cuff should inflate when you pump air into it.  The gauge should be working.  Check to see if the batteries are still okay and have not leaked.  If you decide to use the manual type of blood pressure monitor, check to see if the stethoscope is functioning properly.  The stethoscope plate should be clean.
  • Sit down beside a table where you can comfortably rest your arm on.  Your arm should neither be too low or too high.  It should be at the same height as your heart.  Your back should be supported by a backrest.  Both feet are on the floor.
  • Relax.  Take deep breaths and calm yourself.  Don’t keep on moving and avoid talking.  When you are nervous, excited, agitated, uncomfortable or anxious, this can cause your blood pressure to rise.  Only take your blood pressure measurement when your breathing has settled and you are in a calm state.
  • Use the right cuff size and insert it cuff properly.  Make sure you have the one that properly fits your arm. The cuff should be positioned in your upper arm about an inch away from your elbow.  Make sure that your clothing does not come in between your arm and the cuff.  Tightly close the cuff.  Blood pressure cuffs come with a Velcro as a means of closing the cuff.
  • Take the blood pressure measurement twice.  Write this down in a small notebook so you have a record.  If you think the blood pressure reading is wrong, take a second one after 2 minutes or more.

Note:  Getting a reading at home may provide a more accurate picture of your actual blood pressure. Sometimes, blood pressure readings in the hospital or doctor’s office can be higher because there are a number of factors that can affect your blood pressure while outside.  For one thing, patients are usually anxious when they go see their doctors.  Also, the outside temperature may be too high, it may have been tiring to walk to the doctor’s office, or you are agitated from the long wait.  These can all cause your blood pressure to shoot up.
Practice these tips to avoid mistakes in blood pressure readings.  This way you and your doctor will always have an accurate picture of your blood pressure.  Contact your doctor right away if you blood pressure readings are not normal to get the immediate advice and care.


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