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The Ins-and-Outs of Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood pressure is really best checked at home as many patient’s blood pressure can shot up 20-30 points just by walking in a doctors office. The problem is many patients measure their blood pressure wrong. The proper technique involves supporting the arm at heart level. Diastolic pressure increases by up to 10% when the arm is not supported. Having the arm above or below heart level can throw the reading off by up to 10mmHg. Also sit with your back supported, feet flat on the floor, not dangling or crossed. Timing is also important. Rest at least 5 minutes before the reading or 30 minutes if you have just exercised. A word of caution- caffeine, and nicotine can acutely increase blood pressure. Wait 30 minutes after nicotine use and a couple of hours after caffeine. Check you monitor against your doctor’s to make sure it is accurate. If buying a monitor the ones that go around the arm are more accurate than wrist or finger monitors. And make sure you have the right size for your arm. LifeSource and Omron are good brands to purchase.

Terry Pfau DO, HMD

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