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Is your blood pressure being measured accurately?

I hope you know your blood pressure and hope that you have it checked regularly.

While it is essential to get your blood pressure measured regularly, it is also vital to ensure that when you are going to have it checked, you are well prepared and that it is appropriately done during the examination. You will be surprised how many times people do not measure blood pressure correctly.

How you prepare for the test and factors such as your body posture and the level of your arm can cause the blood pressure reading to change by more than 10%. Such a change is significant enough to affect the recommendations you will receive, get your doctor to start you on medication you may not need or could make you miss the opportunity to detect blood pressure if you get a falsely lower blood pressure reading.

The next time you are going to have your blood pressure measured here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Ensure that you are in the best state to get an accurate result.

Here is how you can prepare:

  • Wait at least 2 hours after a big meal or after heavy exercise

  • Wait 30 minutes after exercising, smoking or drinking caffeine before you test

  • Sit quietly with your back supported for 5 minutes before the test is carried out

  • Don’t measure if you are in pain or upset

  • Be in a calm, warm environment. Being cold can affect the reading

  • Empty your bladder or bowel

During the measurement

  • Do not speak. Keep silent until the analysis is completed

  • Be seated with your back supported

  • Keep your legs uncrossed

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor

  • Ensure your arm is supported and not hanging in the air

  • Your arm should be parallel to the floor and not inclined up or down

  • Ensure the blood pressure cuff is placed on bare arm and not on any clothing

  • Ensure that the cuff is about 3 cm above the fold of your elbow and is at the same level of your heart.

A few important points to note

  • A diagnosis of hypertension should not be made with one reading. At least two additional readings on different occasions are needed to make a diagnosis. Usually, these can be days apart. However high readings may lead to a repeat on the same day.

  • Having your blood pressure measured in both arms may be prudent. This is because the two arms may provide different readings.

  • Either a digital, aneroid or a manual mercury-based blood pressure machine may be used. Accuracy largely depends on the user.

The next time you are going to have your blood pressure checked always keep these in mind. Remember that your mental and emotional state, the period from your last meal and activity as well as your posture are fundamental determinants.

I hope these tips have been useful. If so, please share them with friends and family. Let’s join hands to spread the message of wellness to all. You could make a difference in someone’s life by sharing this information.

Also, don’t forget to stay connected on twitter @drpaulkasenene.

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