How to Correctly Measure Blood Pressure

by Susan Schachter, MSRDN August 30, 2022 2 min read

How to Correctly Measure Blood Pressure

I believe that everyone reading this is interested in achieving or maintaining healthy blood pressure. Most of us have learned what we need to do in our lives to assist us in accomplishing that desired outcome. Our progress in this pursuit is measured by our blood pressure readings. My question to all of you is, are we measuring it correctly?

Measuring Blood Pressure

In the United States, normal blood pressure is presently defined as less than 120/80. As we all know, there are many factors that impact that number. For instance, our weight, our food choices, whether or not we smoke, whether or not we exercise, how we deal with stress, how much alcohol we consume, whether or not we take prescribed blood pressure meds, etc. But did you realize that how our blood pressure reading is measured is important as well? It is!!!

Tips For An Accurate Blood Pressure Reading

What is important in terms of getting an accurate measurement? According to the American Heart Association (Hypertension May 2019 https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYP.0000000000000087):

  1. Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor and that your back is supported. The measurement should not be taken while sitting on an exam table with your arms and feet dangling.
  2. Make sure that you’re given five minutes to sit quietly in a comfortable chair before measurement is taken. There shouldn’t be any conversation or moving around while the reading is being done. Conversation can artificially raise blood pressure.
  3. The temperature in the room should be at least 72 degrees.
  4. Empty your bladder before the measurement is taken. A full bladder can affect a blood pressure reading.
  5. If the cuff is inflated to the point where it becomes painful, the experience of the pain can artificially raise the blood pressure number.
  6. The blood pressure cuff must fit. It should not be too big or too small. This is of extreme importance in light of the rise in the prevalence of obesity.
  7. While the measurement is being taken, your arm should be supported at heart height.
  8. And as we’ve mentioned before, The AHA recommends three readings. A minute between each reading is best.

As we are doing our best to implement healthy blood pressure normalization choices, an accurate blood pressure measurement reading can help us truly understand how our circulatory system is doing and accordingly, make the right lifestyle & dietary choices

Here’s to your health!


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