Which arm is best for Blood Pressure measurement

If you are one of those who think that blood pressure can be measured through any arm, then you might be mistaken. Usually medical professionals measure blood pressure through left arm of the patient. But why is it done so ? Why can't we measure it through right hand ? These are very simple questions that can appear in mind of any person of scientific attitude. BetterHealthFacts.com will try to answer them and increase your knowledge about your body.

Blood Pressure is higher in dominant arm

Blood Pressure can be measured through any arm. However it is little bit higher in dominant arm. Most of the people are right-handed, hence left arm is preferred to measure blood pressure to get the better reading. Sometimes you should get BP checked in both of your arms to check the arm-to-arm difference.

More difference between arm-to-arm blood pressure

Small difference between arm-to-arm blood pressure is normal. If you observe that the difference between blood pressure in both of your hands is more, then you should get yourself checked by a specialist. Difference of around 5 points in systolic pressure is normal. But if it is more than 10 points then you should be more aware about your heart health, as your chances of heart diseases is more than an average person. 

If you are ever diagnosed with more arm-to-arm blood pressure difference then you should always get your blood pressure checked with that arm which shows higher blood pressure and get appropriate treatment. Usually higher arm-to-arm difference may be an indication of :

  • Blocked arteries in your arms (peripheral artery disease)
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart defect

Blocked arteries in your arm may show some visible symptoms like tightness, weakness, heaviness or cramping in that arm. Finger pain and sensitivity to cold are some of the other symptoms. Rarely fingers of the affected arm may turn pale or blue due to blockage. So such symptoms should not be ignored. Measuring blood pressure in both of your arms can be used to diagnose this disease at home.

Our kidneys perform blood filtration and high blood pressure is directly related to their performance and capacity. Some researches have shown that high blood pressure in any one arm may be a symptom of kidney disease.

Heart defect like narrowing of the aorta (main artery that comes out of heart) may result in a selective elevation in blood pressure. So you should consult a cardiologist if higher blood pressure is found in one arm only.

Conclusion: In a healthy person there is a very minor difference in arm-to-arm blood pressure. Usually dominant arm shows little bit higher BP. If the difference is more than 10 points (systolic) then you should consult a cardiologist and consider the higher BP as the actual blood pressure for further treatment or as suggested by the specialist.

Best Position to measure Blood Pressure (Sitting or Lying Down posture)

Are you one of those people who want to know the best posture to measure blood pressure ? Usually a medical professional measures your blood pressure after you sit comfortably on a chair. But is it the right body position to measure the accurate blood pressure ? Some people believe that blood pressure is measured best while lying on back, as it is the most comfortable position. Here we will try to find if such beliefs really have some actual facts behind it.

Best Position to measure Blood Pressure

Sitting vs Lying Blood Pressure

Mostly blood pressure is measured while sitting on a comfortable chair, and rarely while lying on your back. These two are the most preferred body postures to measure BP. Here the main fact to known is the placement of cuff. In both of these postures, the medical professional places the cuff on your arm after adjusting your arm's height in level of your heart. Even if you are sitting on a chair, your arm is usually placed on a table so that the cuff can be wrapped at the level of your heart. If the heart-level factor is adjusted properly then either you measure the blood pressure while sitting or lying down, your results will be almost same.

Lying vs Standing Blood Pressure

In a healthy person there is nominal difference in blood pressure either lying or standing, if it measured by taking care of heart-level factor. But in older people and diabetic people this statement might not be true. If the person is suffering from postural hypotension then the difference can be quiet high.

Sitting vs Standing Blood Pressure

Usually our blood pressure drops a little bit as we stand up from sitting or lying posture. This difference usually increase as a person gets older. So sitting blood pressure and standing blood pressure might not differ much in a healthy young adult, but it can create more difference in readings of older people or those who are suffering from other medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.

Several researches have been done on measurement of blood pressure and upper arm is the best place to measure it while sitting on a comfortable chair with proper support for your back and feet on floor. In our last article we listed some common mistakes often done while measuring blood pressure. You must read it to get the most accurate readings even while measuring BP at home.

Conclusion : Your body position causes very minor difference in your blood pressure if you are a healthy young adult. This statement is applicable only if you are not above 50 years of age and not suffering from lifestyle diseases or cardiovascular diseases.

Common mistakes while measuring Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure monitors are now being used at home and every person seems to be an expert in taking the BP readings. Instead of being overconfident one must read about the following common mistakes that are made while measuring blood pressure. Some of these mistakes are not just made at home but also at the hospitals. If you read this article then you can easily pin-point such mistakes and correct the error commonly made while measuring blood pressure.

Regular inaccurate readings can make you misdiagnose your normal health as hypertension. So don't fall prey to inaccuracy in blood pressure measurement. Here is a list of common mistakes made while measuring blood pressure along with the impact that those mistakes make in the readings.

  • Never stop your urge to urinate just before a blood pressure measurement. A full bladder can increase your readings by 10 to 15 points.
  • Talking while measuring your blood pressure can increase readings by 10 points. Even talking on phone have the similar effect. Sit quietly for 5 minutes beforehand to get the best BP readings.
  • Smoking should be avoided for 30 minutes before blood pressure measurement. 
  • Unsupported back or feet can increase your readings by 6 to 10 points. Make sure that you are at rest for a few minutes before measurement, so that your BP can lower itself to normal state. If you measure it just seconds after sitting, then your readings will still be higher than actual. If you are in sitting posture than make sure that your feet are flat on floor (not swinging in air).
  • An undersized or over-sized cuff can also give inaccurate blood pressure readings by 2 to 10 points.
  • Unsupported arm can increase the blood pressure readings up to 10 points. Make sure that your arm is properly supported and is at the level of your heart.
  • Never measure your blood pressure just after waking up in morning. At that time your blood pressure might be lower that normal. So if you don't want to fool yourself with lower readings, then don't measure your BP at that time. However you can measure it after getting fresh and drinking water, so that your body comes out of sleep mode. Best time to measure BP
  • If you wrap the cuff over some clothing on arm, then it can increase your BP readings by 5 to 50 points, depending on the type of clothing. So any type of cloth on your arm can make a huge error in blood pressure measurement. So nothing should be between your bare arm and the cuff.
  • Sitting with crossed legs while getting your blood pressure measured can increase it by 8 points. So always uncross your legs at such time and put them on floor for proper support.
  • If you measure it just after having a meal of caffeine drink then your blood pressure will be on higher side and these things keep your BP high for at least 30 minutes.
  • If you measure your blood pressure after a workout session then it might be most inaccurate, unless your intentionally wanted to check it. 
Note: Our blood pressure is very dynamic as it can change 10 to 20 points within seconds. So sitting quietly for at least a minute before measurement is extremely important. Rechecking the blood pressure after a few minutes is also a good practice. If the first number (systolic) differs by 10 points in second measurement, then you should go for third measurement. Average of these readings is the most accurate blood pressure. 

If you take care of the about points while getting your blood pressure measured then most probably you will get the accurate result unless there is a fault in the equipment. Avoiding these common mistakes while measuring your blood pressure can save you from unnecessary medication.

When to measure Blood Pressure (Best time to measure BP)

Our blood pressure have got a pattern. Usually it goes up during daytime and lowers during night. It is highest just after the afternoon and lowest in the early hours before sunrise. Our blood pressure begins to rise even before we get up. So you can say that it goes up and down with our biological clock. If you are struggling to find the best time to measure your blood pressure to get to best possible readings then that time will be 1 hour before you get up in the morning. How to get it measured at that time is a real challenge.

If you don't want to fool yourself and really conscious about your heart health, then we will tell you when you should measure you BP. Instead of focusing on getting the minimum possible readings, your motive should be to get that reading which shows your actual heart health.

When to measure Blood Pressure ?

Instead of searching for "when to measure your blood pressure", your first priority should be to measure blood pressure properly. Especially if you are a device at home, then make sure that it measures the blood pressure properly. To do so either get it checked by a medical practitioner, or take at least 2 to 3 readings at the same time, and check if all those readings are nearly same.

Now come to the "When". Best time to measure blood pressure is twice in a day. Once in morning before having breakfast and once in evening.

Measuring Blood Pressure in Morning

  • Never measure it just after getting up. Give yourself some time, drink water, answer the natural calls and give your body sometime to come out of sleeping mode and then measure your blood pressure. 
  • If you workout in morning then measure you blood pressure before workout.
  • Make sure that you measure BP before eating anything or drinking any caffeine drink or alcohol.

Measuring Blood Pressure in Evening

  • Try to measure it at the same time every evening.
  • Don't eat or drink (apart from water) for 30 minutes before taking measurement.

Record your blood pressure readings on regular basis and take the following precautions.

  • Use same arm everyday for measuring blood pressure.
  • While measuring your BP you should sit quietly and don't think about anything that makes you aggressive.
  • During measurement your arm should be placed at heart level. If you are sitting then place your hand on a table of appropriate height. You may use a pillow under your hand to properly adjust the height.
  • While putting the cuff on your arm, make sure that it is not wrapped above any cloth. Cuff should be wrapped on bare skin.

Note: Never make any changes in your mediation if you find your blood pressure readings normal at home. You should consult your doctor before making any changes in medication. However you may show your blood pressure records to the doctor, which may help him/her in understanding your heart health better.