Checking your blood pressure regularly will allow you to get a clearer and more comprehensive understanding about your personal risk of stroke and heart disease. Your blood pressure can fluctuate often due to several factors which is why it’s important to check your blood pressure often.
What Affects Blood Pressure Readings?
Your blood pressure can be affected in many ways from illnesses and diseases which can have long term impacts. For our purposes, let’s focus on some of the short term factors that can impact your blood pressure readings and can cause them to be inaccurate. Having a full bladder, crossing your legs, how much you’ve eaten, how cold you are, if you’ve had alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco recently. It’s important to make sure your legs stay flat, have an empty bladder, eat an adequate but not an extremely filling amount, stay temperate, abstain from alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco for at least 30 mins before taking a reading, and also making sure that the cuff for your blood pressure device is not over any clothing and that it’s sized correctly over your arm i.e. the cuff is not excessively loose or tight.
How to Measure Your Blood Pressure
Each device will have instructions on it or it should come with instructions in/on the package. Some devices are manual and will take some difficulty to operate but the majority of blood pressure devices for consumer use are electric and are straightforward to use. It;’s important to take multiple readings in one session and also to measure at the same time of day when taking consistent readings over a period of time so that the comparisons are accurate between each other.
How to Interpret Your Readings
This chart from heart.org shows the various ranges for what is considered normal/healthy:
While having higher blood pressure levels can be alarming, it’s also important to note that outside factors beyond what we’ve discussed so far could be a factor in your elevated reading. Having one or two high blood pressure readings isn’t necessarily enough cause for concern but if there is a detectable pattern of high blood pressure, make sure to share the pattern of readings to your healthcare provider.
Forbes Aggabao -Alexander’s Hope Intern