If you’re one of the 103 million adult Americans diagnosed with high blood pressure then monitoring your blood pressure is probably part of your regular routine.
The American Heart Association (AHA) warns there are seven common mistakes people make, both at home and at the doctor’s office, when taking a blood pressure reading that can cause it to be inaccurate. Getting an accurate reading is essential to determining whether someone actually has high blood pressure or needs their medications adjusted.
To get an accurate blood pressure reading, avoid these seven common mistakes:
1. Having a Full Bladder: AHA recommends emptying your bladder before measuring your blood pressure. Having a full bladder while measuring your blood pressure can add 10-15 points to your reading.
2. Slouching, Unsupported Back/Feet: Failing to properly support yourself while sitting can raise your blood pressure by 6-10 points. AHA recommends sitting in a chair with your back supported and feet flat on the floor or footstool.
3. Unsupported Arm: Leaving your arm hanging by your side and holding it up during a reading can make your numbers up to 10 points higher than they should be. AHA recommends positioning your arm on a chair or counter, keeping the measurement cuff level with your heart.
4. Wrapping the Cuff Over Clothing: The measurement cuff should be placed on a bare arm. Wrapping the cuff over clothing can add 5-50 points to your blood pressure reading.
5. When the Cuff is Too Small: If your cuff is too small it can raise your readings by 2-10 points. AHA suggests talking to your physician about how to get a proper fit.
6. Sitting with Crossed Legs: Crossing your legs can increase your reading by 2-8 points. Uncross your legs while taking your reading and have your feet supported.
7. Talking: Chatting while taking your reading, like answering questions or talking on the phone, can increase your reading by 10 points. AHA recommends staying still and silent while your reading is taken.