Measuring blood pressure at an annual health checkup is always part of your daily routine. In fact, most people don’t think much about blood pressure measurements when compared to CT scans and MRI procedures used to detect complex problems. As long as your doctor reports your usual readings, there’s no reason to worry. But have you ever wondered if your blood pressure readings are accurate?
Studies show that 15% to 30% of people with elevated blood pressure in clinics and other healthcare facilities show normal blood pressure when checked at home. It’s not shocking news. You have to be a pretty cool patient so that you don’t get a little nervous in the clinic. There is always concern that doctors have bad news.
Surprisingly, there are 19 requirements to get a true blood pressure measurement. How many of these measures will be implemented in a busy clinic?
For example, a patient should sit for 5 minutes, then support his back and place his feet flat on the ground to measure blood pressure. This means that sitting on an examination table with hanging legs is no no. I’m crossing my legs. Do not put your cuffs on your clothes. You should also make at least two measurements during your visit and record the average.
The patient also needs to relax and breathe normally. Smoking, caffeine, and exercising before the test are all prohibited before the blood pressure measurement. Also, if you are taking medication for high blood pressure, do not take it just before going to the doctor’s office.
Another important no-no you may not have considered is that you should not measure your blood pressure when you are full. So, courageously say, “Doctor, could you wait a few minutes for your bathroom to be available before you measure your blood pressure?”
How about a sphygmomanometer cuff? If the cuff is too small or too large, it can reduce the reliability of the reading. The cuffs may be too tight or too tight. Your arms should be placed on a table at approximately heart level while you are measuring your blood pressure. If taken at the same time of the day in a similar situation, the series of readings over time will be more accurate.
Are you still blindly confident in your blood pressure measurements? If I have been prescribed blood pressure medication, do I need it? Or was the diagnosis the result of “white coat hypertension”?
If these basic blood pressure requirements are not met during a medical examination, the patient will be in trouble. It takes a strong personality to tell nurses and doctors, “I’m worried that this may not be an accurate blood pressure measurement because I didn’t follow standard procedures.” It’s not the best way to create a good relationship between your doctor and your patient. So what else can we do?
If you are taking a blood pressure monitor, it is wise to buy an automatic digital blood pressure monitor. These are more accurate than traditional manual devices used in offices where rubber balls need to be squeezed to inflate the cuff. All you need to do with your digital device is to wrap the cuff around your arm and press a button to inflate the cuff. You will get immediate results.
Now it’s easy to say. “My digital cuff doctor says my blood pressure at home is consistently 130/80. Maybe I just have white coat hypertension.”
A weekly column by Dr. W. Giftord-Jones has been published for 45 years. The same nonsense tradition continues in collaboration with father and daughter.Sign up with www.docgiff.com Receive a weekly electronic newsletter.For comments, email email@example.com..
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