What Are The Common Causes Of Getting Blood Pressure Readings That Are Inaccurate
It is quite normal for peoples blood pressure to change throughout the day and night, or in different settings where you may take your blood pressure. Many things, such as stress levels, food or drink intake, activity levels, even time of day can all affect a persons blood pressure reading at any given time. So, it is possible that you may just be seeing normal fluctuations in blood pressure.
However, below are some common situations that can lead to inconsistent or inaccurate readings:
When To Check Blood Pressure
If youre using a blood pressure monitor on your doctors advice, he or she should tell you when to take readings. As a rule, though, you should take them at the same time of day on each occasion, so youre comparing like with like.
Take a few readings each time, a couple of minutes apart, and calculate the average to make the figures more representative. And if your blood pressure monitor doesnt store your readings for you, jot them down in a notebook to get an idea of long-term trends.
Bupa . High blood pressure. Retrieved from www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/heart-blood-circulation/high-blood-pressure-hypertension
American Heart Association . Monitoring your blood pressure at home. Retrieved from www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings/monitoring-your-blood-pressure-at-home
How To Interpret Your Blood Pressure Measurements
Your blood pressure measures how much pressure is going against your blood vessels as your heart beats.
The top number measures how much pressure is against your vessels when the heart is contracting. And the bottom number measures how much pressure is against your vessels when your heart is relaxing. Our blood pressure can change throughout the day. It often rises if we are feeling stressed, anxious, drink caffeine or have pain. These transient rises arent usually dangerous to us.
What matters most is what our blood pressure averages throughout the day.
So one high reading doesnt mean you necessarily have hypertension. This is why taking your pressures regularly and following the above 5 steps to getting an accurate reading is so important to discovering what your average blood pressure is.
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How Do I Make Sure I Am Taking A Good Reading
Now that weve gotten the background information out of the way, its time to get started!
- Sit with your back straight, your legs uncrossed, and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place the cuff on your left arm or wrist .
- For upper arm monitors, wrap the cuff around the middle of your bare upper arm, about ½ above the elbow. It should be fastened snugly, but you should be able to slide two fingers underneath the cuff. Place the air hose on the inside of the arm near the crook of your elbow so that the artery position mark is aligned with your brachial artery.
- For wrist monitors, with the palm facing upwards, attach the monitor to the inside of your wrist. Fasten securely with the top edge of the cuff aligned with the crease of your wrist.
Thats all there is to it!
What Is It Used For
A blood pressure measurement is most often used to diagnose high blood pressure.
Blood pressure that’s too low, known as hypotension, is much less common. But you may get tested for low blood pressure if you have certain symptoms. Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure usually causes symptoms. These include:
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Why Is My Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor Giving High Readings
The most common cause of high readings when using a wrist blood pressure monitor is because the user does not have the wrist monitor at heart level. When using a wrist monitor, pleas ensure the device is at heart level when taking a reading. Also note that there may be actual differences between your blood pressure at the upper arm site and the wrist site.
Does The Size Of The Cuff Matter
Yes, it is very important to use the appropriate size cuff for your arm in order to get accurate measurement results when using your home blood pressure monitor. If you use the wrong sized cuff, you will likely experience inaccurate readings, inconsistent readings and error messages from the device.
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Testing Your Blood Pressure At Home
Your GP may suggest 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring if they think you may have high blood pressure .
ABPM tests your blood pressure regularly over 24 hours, by using a cuff attached to a portable device that’s worn on your waist.
You can continue with your daily activities during this time.
If you want to regularly check your blood pressure at home, you can buy a machine.
How To Take Orthostatic Blood Pressure
Orthostatic hypotension is a medical term for the decrease in systolic and diastolic pressure withing three minutes of the pactient standing as compared with blood pressure taken while sitted. For taking orthistatic blood pressure using a cuff you will have to follow the steps ennuerated above, but also repeat the reading after standing 3 minutes. Dont forget about the pulse rate measurements too.
It is also important to:
- Take your blood pressure twice a day first in the morning, before breakfast but never right after you wake up and then in the evening. Compare the measurements to see how your blood pressure fluctuates after a day of work.
- Always record you readings and inform your doctor on the values you get. From time to time pay his or her a visit and check your measurements against theirs.
Learn that there are various ways to check your blood pressure at home. Now that you have discovered the essential steps concerning how to take blood pressure with cuff correctly, lets take a look at less popular or even unefficient ways to do it.
- How to take blood pressure with fingers
Unlike the popular belief that blood pressure can be determined by using your fingers, such measurement is totally inneffectual. On the other hand, you can use your fingers to check your pulse. Place your first and second fingertips on your arteries and as soon as you have felt your pulse begin counting the beats for 60 seconds.
- How to take blood pressure on leg
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How Does A Blood Pressure Monitor Work
Blood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure monitor. It consists of an inflatable cuff thats wrapped around your arm, roughly level with your heart, and a monitoring device that measures the cuffs pressure.
The monitor measures two pressures: systolic, and diastolic. Systolic pressure is higher, occurring when your heart beats and pushes blood through the arteries, and diastolic pressure is measured when your heart is resting and filling with blood. So, for example, your blood pressure might be 120 over 80.
Blood pressure monitors may be manual or digital, but home monitors are usually digital and the whole measurement process is automatic apart from placing the cuff around your arm.
The cuff then inflates until it fits tightly around your arm, cutting off your blood flow, and then the valve opens to deflate it. As the cuff reaches your systolic pressure, blood begins to flow around your artery. This creates a vibration thats detected by the meter, which records your systolic pressure. In a traditional analogue sphygmomanometer, the blood sounds are detected by the doctor using a stethoscope.
As the cuff continues to deflate, it reaches your diastolic pressure, and the vibration stops. The meter senses this, and records the pressure again.
Before You Measure Your Blood Pressure
- Avoid things that can raise your blood pressure in the short term. Dont measure your blood pressure within half an hour of eating, smoking, drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, or exercising. These can all raise your blood pressure temporarily. If you need to use the toilet, go before you measure your blood pressure.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Wear a short-sleeved t-shirt or something with sleeves you can push up easily, nothing tight. This is so that you can fit the cuff around your arm.
- Rest for five minutes before you take your reading. Sit down somewhere quiet, ideally at a desk or table. Have your back supported with your arm resting on a firm surface and your feet flat on the floor. Stay in this position while you take your blood pressure.
- Make sure your arm is supported and at the same level as your heart. Position yourself so that your arm is resting on a surface and is at the same height as your heart. Keep your arm and hand relaxed, not tensed.
- Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are anxious or uncomfortable, your blood pressure will rise temporarily.
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At Your Local Pharmacy
Public blood pressure machines, such as those found in pharmacies, may provide helpful information about your blood pressure, but they may also have some limitations. The accuracy of these machines depends upon several factors, such as a correct cuff size and proper use of the machines. Ask your health care provider for advice on using public blood pressure machines.
The Best Time To Your Blood Pressure
Take your blood pressure once in the morning and once in the evening. Then do two readings, at least a minute apart from each other, says Dr. Distel. If your reading seems too high or too low, wait a few minutes and then try again.
Try getting in a routine, too, so you can notice any patterns or shifts in your results.
And youll want to record your readings in a journal or notebook. Write down the date, time of day, systolic and diastolic numbers, heart rate and which arm you took the reading on. This will help you notice changes.
Dr. Distel says you can also talk to your doctor about 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This device allows your blood pressure to be measured over a 24-hour period, even while you sleep.
It takes your blood pressure every three to five minutes, says Dr. Distel. If someone didnt want to have to constantly check their own blood pressure it could be an option.
What Are The Different Styles Of Cuffs
- D-Ring Cuff: A d-ring cuff is a standard type of blood pressure cuff that you would usually see in your doctors office. It is a cuff where the user loops one end of the cuff through a metal ring, then fastens it to the arm. D-ring cuffs come in different sizes of small, standard and large. It is important to pick out the right size cuff based on your individual arm circumference. Please see the questions in this Omron FAQ regarding the different types of cuffs and how to measure your arm circumference.
- Expandable Cuff: The Omron ComFit Cuff is a pre-formed upper arm cuff that expands to fit both regular and large sized arms . It is designed to ensure more comfortable, accurate readings.
- Wrist Cuff: A wrist cuff is similar to an upper arm cuff however you can wrap it around your wrist instead of your upper arm.
How To Accurately Measure Blood Pressure At Home
High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for heart attack and stroke. It’s also common among people who develop severe COVID-19 symptoms.
So, with more people at home practicing social distancing and with fewer chances to check blood pressure at public pharmacy machines or doctor visits, it’s more important than ever to know how to do it at home.
How do I select a home blood pressure monitor?
“The readings you get at home are really important, because they reflect the pressure your heart is facing on a day-to-day basis,” said Dr. Michael Hochman, a doctor of internal medicine at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California.
A list of validated home monitors, the first in the United States and commissioned to meet the American Medical Association’s criteria, is available at validateBP.org. The Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society and the European Society of Hypertension also certify devices.
The device should measure blood pressure on the upper arm, which produce a more reliable result than those that measure from the wrist.
Many devices are automated. Simply put on the cuff and press a button. The results are displayed digitally.
Some will store readings, calculate an average blood pressure over time, or even transmit them to your doctor.
Your health care provider should check the device about once a year to ensure its accuracy.
How do I get the most accurate measurement?
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How To Check Your Blood Pressure At Home
Follow expert advice and a step-by-step video to ensure youre getting the most accurate numbers.
This post is part of a mini blog series dedicated to bringing awareness about your heart health during the American Heart Association’s national #HeartMonth. Miss the other stories? Catch up on 5 Eating Tips for a Healthy Heart, How to Know If You’re Having a Heart Attack, 10 Heart Tests Your Doctor Might Order and What They Mean and Getting Heart Healthy with a Mediterranean Diet.
To check your blood pressure, you just switch on a portable monitor and put a cuff on your arm, right? Actually, theres a little more to it than that, says cardiology nurse practitioner Tiffany Luke.
Its important people properly and closely monitor their blood pressure as this is how we determine therapy, Luke explains.
First things first: What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, can be caused by weight gain, alcohol and salt intake, older age and/or a family history. According to the CDC, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. Referred to as the silent killer, its not a reading that should be taken lightly. Controlling or lowering blood pressure can help prevent or delay high blood pressure complications including heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation and chronic kidney disease, says Luke.
Advantages Of Home Testing
Research has shown that home blood pressure readings are similar to blood pressures recorded by 24-hour ambulatory monitors. These monitors are the gold standard for predicting a person’s risk for heart disease.
Home blood pressure readings may eliminate the white-coat effect. The phrase describes how a person’s blood pressure may rise when they visit their healthcare provider’s office. It is very common.
Your healthcare provider may recommend home blood pressure checks for other reasons besides a careful monitoring for high blood pressure. For instance, they may want to see whether a drug used to control blood pressure is working. Or they may want to look for any changes if you adopt a new low-salt diet.
They may use home blood pressure checks to monitor for low blood pressure in certain people. It also may be useful to monitor for masked hypertension. This happens when your blood pressure is normal at your healthcare provider’s office but it is higher at home.
In the end, though, your healthcare provider will use your home blood pressure readings alongside the office blood pressure readings. They are not meant as a substitute, so be sure to continue seeing your provider for regular checkups.
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Are Digital Blood Pressure Monitors Accurate
All Omron blood pressure monitors are clinically proven accurate. They are clinically validated to be within the following:
- Blood pressure: within +/- 3 mgHg or 2 percent
- Pulse: within +/- 5 percent of reading.
This meets or exceeds the AAMI standards. To understand the accuracy levels of other manufacturers blood pressure monitors, you need to contact them. It is always important to investigate accuracy and ease of use before purchasing a home blood pressure monitor.
Why Does Hypertension Matter
If you are in this 130/80 range, reducing your blood pressure can help protect you from heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, and even cognitive decline. The goal of the new guidelines is to encourage you to treat your high blood pressure seriously and to take action to bring it down, primarily using lifestyle interventions. “It is well documented that lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure as much as pills can, and sometimes even more,” says Dr. Fisher.
Making those changes can be challenging. More than one woman has woken up in the morning committed to healthy eating only to be derailed by a plate of cookies on a table in the office or a dinner out with friends.
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What Equipment Do I Need To Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
To measure your blood pressure at home, you can use either an aneroid monitor or digital monitor. Choose the type of monitor that best meets your needs. Look at the following features when you select a monitor.
- Size: The right cuff size is very important. The cuff size you need is based on the size of your arm. You can ask the doctor, nurse, orpharmacist to help you. Blood pressure readings can be wrong if your cuff is the wrong size.
- Price: Cost may be a key factor. Home blood pressure units vary in price. You may want to shop around to find the best deal. Keep in mind that pricey units may not be the best or most accurate.
- Display: The numbers on the monitor should be easy for you to read.
- Sound: You must be able to hear your heartbeat through the stethoscope.
Tests show that finger and wrist devices do not always provide correct measurements. These devices are sensitive to placement and body temperature. They also are expensive and can cost more than $100.
The aneroid monitor manually checks your blood pressure. It has a gauge that you read by looking at a pointer on the dial. The cuff goes around your upper arm and you squeeze a rubber bulb to inflate it by hand.
Inflation of the cuff is either automatic or manual, depending on the model. Deflation is automatic. Digital monitors are good for hearing-impaired patients, since there is no need to listen to your heartbeat through the stethoscope.