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How to Get Accurate Blood Pressure Readings Every Time

01 - Dec - 2021 Navarro Medical

A person is taking a blood pressure reading while resting on a tableIt's always a good idea to periodically take your blood pressure, especially when your doctor has suggested additional monitoring can help you avoid certain complications with specific health conditions. Unfortunately, getting a consistently accurate reading can be more challenging than one might think. Therefore, the next time you try to take your blood pressure, try applying these easy tips to ensure you are getting reliable data with each use.

Before You Take Your Reading
If you recently purchased a digital blood pressure monitor, read the instructions carefully at least an hour before you take your reading. Note the 30 minutes before you begin taking a blood pressure reading is just as important as taking the measurement because how your body is performing will impact the data you collect. Dress in loose clothing and set aside at least 30 minutes to remain calm in a quiet, warm, and peaceful environment. During this time, do not smoke, drink caffeine or alcohol, or actively move in a way that would increase your blood pressure. This is a moment of tranquility and could be an excellent time to catch up on your light reading, count your blessings, or work on healthy calming breathing techniques. In other words, this time should be spent focusing on positive stress-reducers as opposed to thoughts that might raise your anxiety, stress, or frustration levels.

Also, be sure to use the bathroom and sit very still in a chair with an armrest nearby for five minutes prior to taking your blood pressure. Any sudden movements, conversations, or having a full bladder can elevate your readings. Moreover, the armrest could be a flat uncluttered desk, table, or chair arm that will support your arm at the heart level and is located within a comfortable resting distance. It may not seem like this 30-minute routine matters, but, if you rush around getting your daily tasks checked off, it could result in an inaccurate reading of higher blood pressure levels than you would normally experience.

While Taking Your Blood Pressure
At this point, you are hopefully, calm, relaxed, and rested with a fairly neutral mindset or one that is shifted towards nicer thoughts. It is important to practice good posture while sitting as even your body position can affect the results of your reading. Put the cuff on your bare arm as clothing adds heat. Uncross your legs and place your feet flat on the floor. Try taking a few deep breaths that you slowly release before taking your reading.

You can locate your pulse by pressing gently on the brachial artery near the center of the inside of your elbow. This is where your stethoscope head and arm cuff should be placed. The lower end of your cuff should fit about one inch above the crease of your elbow and it should take up approximately 80% of your upper arm. Some cuffs may have an arrow pointing to where the stethoscope head should rest. The cuff should be snug, but not too tight. Follow the instructions for your digital monitor that came with your purchase. Please note, it is important to continue not speaking during this time for the most accurate readings.

After the Reading
Record the reading in your medical log and wait at least one minute before attempting another reading. Three readings on each arm should offer the most precise and accurate information for diagnostic and treatment plan purposes. If your readings fluctuate significantly, stop to consider what might be changing in the way you are sitting, moving, or taking your readings. There could also be environmental changes occurring, such as children playing nearby, street noise, or temperature adjustments.

Spend another five minutes staying still with good posture and try three more readings with a minute between each one to see if the difference might be due to your movements or environment. Write any findings in your medical log with your readings. Also, if your monitor is an older unit, it may need to be checked by your physician for accuracy annually.

Schedule Your Wellness Visits
Although it is helpful to record your blood pressure reading at least every six months or as instructed by your physician, depending on your health needs, there is no independent replacement for your wellness visits. Your doctor needs to assess multiple health-influencing factors that could help detect a health concern early for faster and more effective treatment options. If you are in the Lake Wales, Florida area, Dr. Navarro at Navarro Medical is accepting new patients and offers convenient scheduled and walk-in appointments. For shorter wait times, schedule your appointment online or by calling us at  (863) 949-6541.