Do you need to get your blood pressure checked? If it’s your first experience, here are a few things to keep in mind to create optimal conditions for a reliable reading.
Avoid consuming stimulants like coffee, tea, energy drinks or decongestants one hour before testing. If you smoke, have your last cigarette at least 15 minutes beforehand, and rest for about five minutes. These precautions help prevent skewed results.
The following guidelines will help you get an accurate blood pressure reading, regardless of whether you take it yourself or have someone else do it for you:
• Sit comfortably with your back straight
• Leave your legs uncrossed with your feet flat
on the floor
• Roll up your sleeve or wear a sleeveless top
• Don’t speak, watch TV or look at your phone
• Rest your arms on a flat surface like a tabletop
• Set the height of the cuff at heart level
• Place the cuff three centimetres above the bend
in your elbow
Blood pressure 101
Blood pressure measures the force in your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If your reading is 120/80 mmHg (mmHg stands for millimetres of mercury), the number 120 represents the pressure exerted when the heart contracts, called systolic pressure. The number 80 is diastolic pressure, which indicates the lowest pressure reading when the heart relaxes.
This data is essential for determining whether you have high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. If you have concerns about your blood pressure, don’t delay seeing your doctor.
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