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How To Avoid Mistakes when Taking a Blood Pressure


Updated March 03, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Mistakes are common in blood pressure measurement. Take just a few minutes each time you measure your blood pressure to make sure you have the most accurate reading possible.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 2

Here's How:

  1. Check your Equipment

    Make sure your equipment is working properly. Your blood pressure gauge and cuff should be in good shape with fresh batteries. If you are using a manual blood pressure gauge, make sure your stethoscope is clean and working well.

  2. Relax

    Blood pressure can rise and fall depending on our body's state. If we are nervous, anxious, or agitated our blood pressure will rise. Take a few moments to relax quietly before taking your blood pressure. Have everything ready, sit down, and breathe.

  3. Make sure the cuff fits

    The blood pressure cuff should fit over about 3/4 of your upper arm. It should easily go around your arm and the Velcro should close tightly.

  4. Position your Arm

    Your arm should be at the same level of your heart. If your arm is positioned higher than the level of your heart, your blood pressure reading will be falsely low. If your arm is positioned below the level of your heart, your blood pressure reading will be falsely high. 

  5. Sit Well

    Sit with your back supported and feet on the floor. Do not more around while taking your blood pressure. Leave your legs in one position. Breath deeply and calmly.

  6. Write it Down

    Write down your blood pressure or be sure that the person taking it writes it down. Too often you, a nurse, or a family member tries to remember the blood pressure and record it later. This can lead to many errors. Make sure your blood pressure gets written down immediately and is copied directly from the blood pressure gauge.

  7. Take it at Home

    Take you blood pressure at home even if you are seeing a doctor regularly. There are many things about seeing a doctor that can cause a change in your blood pressure -- anxiety, anger about forms or payment, walking across a parking lot, time of day, or anger about waiting a long time. Take your blood pressure routinely at home and keep a log. Bring your log to the doctor's visit and mention it if the office readings are different from your home reading.

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