A good habit: Check your blood pressure at home
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.