Do you have a digital sphygmomanometer for monitoring your blood pressure at home? Do you regularly visit the doctor to check your blood pressure readings? Then, this article is for you. Our blood pressure is a constantly changing value which can easily be affected by our mood, level of activity, mechanics of the machine, causing changes that can be as low as 5mmHg or as high as 40mmHg. You can actually be pronounced as hypertensive when you’re not! Let’s see what these errors are.
Let’s start with the blood pressure cuff itself. The cuff is that part you wrap around your arm. Provided that the machine itself is in good condition, you may run into problems when using a cuff inappropriately. A good cuff should cover three quarters of one’s arm. Any less is considered small and this may falsely elevate one’s readings. A cuff shouldn’t be used over any clothing. Do ensure to roll the sleeves of your shirt or blouse. In doing this, be sure that the rolled sleeves are not already constricting your arm otherwise you’ll have to take the cloth off completely. These mistakes often falsely elevate blood pressure readings.
Lifestyle habits also matter. Walking in to get your blood pressure measured after having a cup of coffee isn’t the best idea. The same goes for alcohol and cigarettes. You probably shouldn’t be having any anyway. They all contain substances that directly act of the blood vessels and may cause blood pressure to rise falsely. Suspend all coffee, cigarette or alcohol intake about thirty minutes to one hour prior to blood pressure measurement.
Let’s assume you’ve just walked in to see the doctor after climbing up a flight of stairs. What do you think your blood pressure will read at this point? Elevated, of course. Activity usually elevates our blood pressure, albeit transiently. Hence, a 5-10 minutes rest is advisable before measurement. When you want to measure, sit comfortably on a chair. Ensure your back and arms are well supported. Do not cross your legs. Ensure your arms are placed at the level of your heart. These measures will prevent any false elevations or even decreases in blood pressure.
If you’ve just walked into a chilly room, you want to adjust the thermostat to something warmer before measurement. A cold temperature tends to elevate the blood pressure. You shouldn’t do any talking while measuring. This can increase the blood pressure. Stress and anxiety aren’t your best companions at this period. The best time to measure your blood pressure isn’t the moment after you got news that the results of your examination has been released.
Lastly, you want to ensure your bladder is empty before taking your reading. Walk down to the toilet, let the urine out and walk back. Take your reading after resting for 5 minutes with your arms and back supported. Remember, do not cross your legs.