Your blood pressure naturally varies throughout the day and is impacted by different factors such as what you eat and when, or how much physical exercise you do. Hence, it is quite normal that when you monitor your levels, the readings are different from one measurement to another.
However, certain factors – like the ones listed below – can lead to higher fluctuations, and therefore result in imprecise measurements. It is important to control these elements before measuring your blood pressure so that you get accurate readings.
“White coat effect” is an expression that is used when the stress or fear associated with visiting a doctor or a hospital causes an increase in blood pressure. To avoid this effect, you can monitor your blood pressure at home and note the readings.
Using the wrong cuff size:
Just because a blood pressure monitor cuff fits well, that does not mean that its size is appropriate. To determine the correct cuff size, use a tape to measure the circumference of your upper arm (between the shoulder and elbow). Do not hold the tape too tight. Write down the exact measurement in centimetres.
Wrong arm position:
If you measure your blood pressure while your arm is parallel to your body, it can give you a reading that is higher than the actual pressure. You should place your arm on a table, slightly bent, with the elbow at chest height. Here’s more on the right way to position your arm while monitoring your blood pressure.
Arm cuff not tied properly:
Be sure to position the cuff correctly on your arm. It must neither be too tight nor too loose. You should be able to insert a finger between the top of the cuff and your skin after it is tied. After wrapping it around your arm, check that the sensor is well positioned on the artery. The air tube should go down along the inside of your arm.
Eating, drinking, and physical activity:
Avoid eating, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages, exercising or smoking before measuring your blood pressure. It is also advisable to relax for 5-10 minutes before taking the reading. Choose a calm and peaceful place to carry out the task.