How to Get the Best Blood Pressure Reading

BLOG 5.10.18We all know how important it is to check your blood pressure regularly for signs of hypertension and other cardiovascular disease. Oftentimes, however, blood pressure readings may be inaccurate the first time they are read. Stress, anxiety, caffeine, and even talking during the test are all factors that could affect your blood pressure reading.

With the hustle and bustle that takes place in a busy doctor’s office, it can be difficult to relax while your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and other vitals are taken in less than a minute. Here are some tips to ensure you get the best blood pressure reading at your next appointment:

  • Avoid caffeine and smoking 30 minutes before your appointment. Caffeinated beverages and cigarettes both contain chemicals that increase your heart rate, which may result in a higher blood pressure reading.
  • Don’t talk during the test. This might seem trivial; however, the simple act of talking could interfere with an accurate reading.
  • Keep your legs uncrossed. Crossing your legs at the knee has been shown to increase systolic blood pressure by 7% and diastolic blood pressure by 2.3%. Placing both feet flat on the ground is the best way to ensure an accurate blood pressure measurement.
  • Ask your healthcare provider to take your blood pressure twice. According to a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, checking your blood pressure a second time often results in a lower number. This gives you some time in between readings to sit quietly and relax so your blood pressure will return to its normal state. For some patients, checking their blood pressure twice could mean the difference in a hypertensive or normal reading.

If your blood pressure is still elevated after trying out these tips, it may be time for some lifestyle changes. Talk to your healthcare provider about the DASH diet or try meditating for a few minutes daily to help lower your chances of hypertension.

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