Home and Community Safety & Health Wellness Older adults Articles mentioned in FSH Instagram posts

A good habit: Check your blood pressure at home

Photo: vgajic/iStockphoto

Has your blood pressure ever been high during a doctor appointment? A recent study concluded that readings taken in your doctor’s office “don’t reflect real life.”

One reason for this: “white coat” hypertension. Many people feel anxious when they’re at their doctor’s office, causing their blood pressure to spike.

That’s why checking your blood pressure at home may result in a more accurate reading.

The American College of Cardiology recommends you buy an automated upper-arm cuff that has been validated by an independent organization. Go to validatebp.org to find a validated device.

A pharmacist can help you find the cuff size that’s right for you.

“To accurately take a measurement, don’t exercise, smoke or consume caffeine within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure,” the American Heart Association advises. “Empty your bladder and quietly sit still for at least five minutes.”

Once you’re ready to take a reading, put your arm on a flat surface, with the upper part of your arm sitting at heart level. As you put on the cuff, align the bottom of it “directly above the bend in the elbow against bare skin.” You should sit straight up in your chair, with your feet flat on the floor.

The association suggests taking two measurements one minute apart in the morning (before taking any medications) and in the evening before you eat. Create a log that you can bring to your next doctor appointment.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)