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How to Measure Blood Pressure Accurately

Doctor Measuring arterial blood pressure woman patient on arm Health care in hospital

It is simply frightening how many Hospitals do not take a blood pressure reading in a way best designed to give accuracy. They make simple mistakes. Here’s how to get an accurate reading:

  1. Be seated with your legs uncrossed, feet on the floor.
  2. Your back should be supported, ideally your neck too.
  3. Be calm; relax in this position for 3 – 5 minutes. Never take the reading straight away
  4. Your arm which is being used must also be supported, for example on a cushion, and should be in line with your heart.
  5. The cuff to be used must be at least one inch above the bend in your arm.
  6. The pressure tube should pass down the arm.
  7. The cuff must never go over clothing, even partially.
  8. The cuff must neither be too tight or too loose.
  9. Avoid exercise for at least 3 hours before the test; and caffeine, sugar and alcohol for 6 hours.
  10. Do not have a full bladder – that can increase the figure by ten points too.
  • Take your blood pressure every day at the same time. One measurement is pretty meaningless; it can change 10 minutes later. Better to keep a record of blood pressure results over time.

Each and all of the points above can put the reading out by 5 – 20 mmHg.

Blood pressure tests record your systolic blood pressure (the force the heart uses to pump out the blood) and your diastolic pressure (the pressure between beats).

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