Is Your Blood Pressure Being Measured Correctly?

Is Your Blood Pressure Being Measured Correctly?

Is Your Blood Pressure Being Measured Correctly?

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a serious health problem that often has no symptoms. You can have high blood pressure for years and not know it.

It’s important to find out if you do because if left untreated, it can cause serious harm to your heart, kidneys and eyes. People with high blood pressure also have a greater risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. 

Since high blood pressure often causes no noticeable symptoms, checking your blood pressure regularly is vital, even when you’re feeling fine.

Whether you’re getting your blood pressure checked at the doctor’s office or taking it at home, it’s important to make sure it’s done right. Your care is based on the results, and it must be done correctly for an accurate result.

Try these tips to get a good reading:

  • Don't exercise, have caffeine or smoke within 30 minutes of checking your blood pressure.
  • Rest for five minutes before your reading is taken.
  • Be still, sit up straight and keep your feet on the ground.
  • Support your arm on a desk or table. It should be at the level of your heart. 
  • Pull your shirt sleeve up. You may not get an accurate reading over clothes.
  • Make sure the cuff is in the right place. The bottom should be just above the bend of your elbow.
  • Try two or three readings, especially if the first reading is high or low. Wait one to three minutes between readings. 
  • If you’re keeping track at home, track your numbers and share them with your doctor.

If you’re having your blood pressure checked at the doctor’s office, don’t be afraid to speak up if you see that it isn’t being taken correctly. And ask to have it taken again if the reading is higher or lower than the normal range. Take charge of your health by making sure you get accurate results.

If you want to keep track of your blood pressure at home, get a home device that pumps up the arm cuff. Make sure the cuff fits right. Avoid gadgets that go on the finger or wrist. And take it with you to a doctor’s visit at least once a year to make sure the readings are right. Have the doctor watch you use your device to make sure you’re using it correctly.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about what changes you can make to keep it under control.

Your Blood Pressure and Your Health

Read Your Blood Pressure and Your Health to learn more about blood pressure and why it’s so important to know your numbers and keep them in a safe range.

Sources: The Facts About High Blood Pressure American Heart Association, 2017; Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home American Heart Association, 2017; Monitoring blood pressure at home,   Harvard Medical School, 2018