Monday, July 01, 2013

Is your blood pressure being checked properly?

Are you sitting on the edge of an exam table, having just rushed into the exam room, legs dangling, as the medical assistant inflates the blood pressure cuff?  Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario, and is the WRONG way to check a blood pressure.

When blood pressure is checked improperly, the systolic reading can be up to 14 points higher than the true correct reading!!!

Here is how your blood pressure should be checked:

--You are sitting calmly in a chair.  You have been seated in this chair for a couple of minutes.
--Your feet are flat on the floor, your back comfortably supported.
--Your arm is at heart level.  The arm is being supported, either by the arm of the chair, a table, or by the medical assistant who is supporting your arm.  You are NOT holding your arm up for the blood pressure to be taken.

This is how we do blood pressures in our office.  If your blood pressure is checked any other way, speak up.  You want your accurate blood pressure recorded.

2 comments:

Catie Hardiman-Berger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa K said...

Thanks for this, Heather. I'm currently 38+ weeks pregnant and from about weeks 30-33, I had every test imaginable for preeclampsia (some of them twice), because I had some high blood pressure readings. When both my urine and blood tests came back normal, and the doctor couldn't explain why my blood pressure was still on the high side (in the high 130s-140s over high 80s-90s) an MA tried having me lay on my left side for about 5 minutes and then take it just as you described. Lo and behold, by BP is now back down to the 110s/70s, which is what it was previously. Not sure if it was white coat syndrome or what, but it was definitely a stressful time for those few weeks!