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.

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