Blood pressure is one of the most important health measurements, but a new study finds that more than 90% of people make mistakes when checking their own blood pressure. This can lead to inaccurate readings and a false sense of security, or even to misdiagnosis of hypertension.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at data from over 1,000 people who were asked to measure their own blood pressure at home. The researchers found that only 10% of the participants got accurate readings. The most common mistakes were using the wrong-sized cuff, not waiting long enough after sitting down, and talking during the measurement.
“These findings are concerning because they suggest that many people are not getting accurate readings of their blood pressure,” said lead author Dr. Stephanie A. S. Faulhaber, of the University of California, San Francisco. “This can lead to people either not being treated for hypertension when they need to be, or being treated unnecessarily.”
If you’re not sure how to check your blood pressure properly, here are the steps you should follow:
- Make sure you have the right-sized cuff. The cuff should be snug but not too tight. You can measure the circumference of your arm to find the right size.
- Sit down in a comfortable chair with your arm supported at heart level.
- Rest for at least five minutes before taking your blood pressure.
- Place the cuff on your upper arm, just above the elbow.
- Locate your brachial artery. This is the main artery in your arm.
- Center the stethoscope bell over your brachial artery.
- Inflate the cuff until you can no longer feel your pulse.
- Slowly deflate the cuff while listening to your pulse with the stethoscope.
- The first sound you hear is your systolic blood pressure. The second sound is your diastolic blood pressure.
- Record your blood pressure readings.
If you have any questions about how to check your blood pressure, talk to your doctor or a nurse.
In addition to following the steps above, there are a few other things you can do to make sure you’re getting accurate blood pressure readings:
- Use a properly calibrated blood pressure monitor.
- Take your blood pressure at the same time each day, preferably in the morning.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before taking your blood pressure.
- Make sure you’re relaxed when you take your blood pressure.
By following these steps, you can help ensure that you’re getting accurate blood pressure readings and getting the treatment you need to stay healthy.
Checking your blood pressure regularly is an important part of managing your health. By following the tips above, you can help ensure that you’re getting accurate readings and getting the treatment you need to stay healthy.