It may sound rather simple and lecturing, but there are right and wrong ways to measure your blood pressure. It is important that you do it the right way, to get the most accurate number,
Please note, if you measure it slightly wrong, the numbers can increase and that will, in turn, increase your anxiety levels, and that will then increase blood pressure … vicious circle.
Below are some steps that I recommend using, based on personal experiences, and also through online research from various medical sites.
You need to prepare for taking your blood pressure at home. When you are at the doctor’s office, the nurse will do this will you sit in a chair somewhat relaxed, but at home, you need to get into the zone.
I would strongly suggest you find the location and sit comfortably for a few minutes before taking the measurement, to allow your body to rest 5-10 minutes before you start.
- Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground
- Don’t cross your legs
- Avoid coffee 30-45 mins before you start
- If you have just eaten, wait 1-2 hours
- Have a nice straight back, and sit upright
- Place the cuff just above your elbow joint
- Place your arm on a table or armrest
- Remove close-fitting garments from the upper arm
- Sleeves do not need to be rolled up – they do not interfere with the cuff if they are laid flat
- Make sure the cuff/arm is at the level of your heart
- Sit still and do not talk while taking the measurement
- Start the measurement
The actual measurement only takes 30-60 secs, and the results will be visible on your device immediately.
You should record the measurement in a journal or log unless your smartphone tracks the measurements such as the QardioArm app.
These numbers and logs will be handy when you talk to your cardiologist or doctor and might help them find some more suitable treatment if needed.
When to measure
If possible, you should attempt to measure your blood pressure twice a day; morning and evening. Ideally before taking your medication as these can interfere with your readings if you take tablets for high blood pressure already.
Some suggest taking two readings each time, but from my experience, the second reading will be slightly off and even higher.
Why, well, if you keep the cuff on the arm between readings, then the pressure in your arm will not be fully released. As such, you start with a higher pressure for second reading.
If you do want to take a second reading, I would recommend you switch arms. That was you get a more accurate second reading.
Why does my blood pressure change?
Remember plenty of things that can affect your blood pressure, including anxiety. If you are already nervous or suspect that you have high blood pressure, then you need to factor that into your reading and add it to your log.
If you have a minor cold or take medication for e.g. kidney infection, then your blood pressure will also be off.
It’s a science to find the right time to measure your blood pressure, but keep a log 🙂
The blood pressure will be higher with increased anxiety levels.