Have you ever visited the doctor’s office and discovered that your blood pressure was higher than you expected? Most people do not realize that the measurement of their blood pressure varies depending on their mood, activity, body position, etc. In fact, a simple change can cause blood pressure to fluctuate between 5 and 40 mmHg. Here are 10 factors that can temporarily affect the blood pressure measurement:
1. Blood pressure cuff is too small or too big.
It is very important to use the correct size of blood pressure measurement cuff on the upper arm as a lot of errors in reading can occur due to incorrect cuff. Studies have shown that using a too small blood pressure measurement cuff may cause patient’s systolic blood pressure measurement to increase. And too large a cuff may cause a lower than actual blood pressure measurement.
2. Placing the blood pressure cuff over clothing
When having your blood pressure measured, the cuff should always be placed directly on your bare arm. Some studies have shown that clothing beneath the cuff can affect the blood pressure reading.
3. Resting 3-5 minutes prior measurement.
To obtain an accurate blood pressure measurement, it is important that you relax and rest in a comfortable chair for 3 to 5 minutes before a reading is taken. Any activities such as exercise or eating can affect your blood pressure measurement.
4. Arm Unsupported.
Accurate readings are taken when you are seated comfortably in a chair with foot on the floor, uncrossed. The arm should rest at the level of the heart.
5. Emotional State.
Stress or anxiety can cause large increases in blood pressure. If you are having your blood pressure taken while thinking about something that makes you tense or stressed, your blood pressure levels could increase.
If you are talking to someone while having your blood pressure taken, your systolic blood pressure measurement may increase.
Tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco) contain nicotine which will temporarily increase your blood pressure. It is good at least 30 minutes prior to measurement not to smoke.
The consumption of alcohol and caffeine (sodas, coffee, tea, etc) can increase the levels of blood pressure so stay away from them at least 30 minutes before having a blood pressure measurement taken.
Blood pressure tends to increase when you are cold. Pay attention to the temperature of the room in which you are while your blood pressure measurement is taken.
10. Full bladder.
Your blood pressure is lower when your bladder is empty. As your bladder gradually fills, your blood pressure increases too.
As you see from the list above, even small changes can affect the blood pressure readings. That is why it is important when you measure your blood pressure at home to take these into consideration, so when you consult with your doctor he can give you correct diagnosis.