This Common Medical Blunder Could Cost You Big
Tell me if this picture sounds familiar…
The nurse leads you into an examination room. She has you hop onto the table, legs dangling. You roll up your sleeve, and she straps on a blood pressure cuff, half on your arm, half on your sleeve. She pumps up the cuff, listens to your pulse and writes down the numbers.
It’s a quick procedure, and this is how it’s done in medical offices all across the country, day after day.
The only problem is, everything I just described is wrong. Chances are it will lead to a reading that’s much too high.
According to researchers at Texas Tech University, blood pressure readers are taken incorrectly more than 80% of the time. And here’s how it can cost you…
The Texas Tech team found that 56.4% of time, people fell into a healthier blood pressure classification than the improper measurements indicated. In other words, tens of thousands of people may be taking pills for a blood pressure problem they don’t actually have.
So what can you do about this problem? Insist your blood pressure is taken properly every time.
The guidelines are pretty detailed, but here are the basics you need to know…
Don’t have any caffeine before your appointment, and don’t wear tight clothing. Avoid tobacco and exercise for at least 30 minutes before your blood pressure reading. Make sure your bladder is empty, too.
You should sit quietly in a chair – not on an examination table – for at least 5 minutes before your reading is taken. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
Your arm should be supported on a pillow and the blood pressure cuff should be on your skin only. If rolling up your sleeve feels at all tight, take your shirt off. Otherwise, it can create a “tourniquet effect” and throw the reading off.
The blood pressure cuff should be even with the middle of your sternum (breastbone). The person taking your blood pressure should be sure to use the proper-sized cuff. If the cuff is too loose or too tight, it can throw off your reading.
Now, here’s an important step. The staffer should take your blood pressure twice – at least a minute apart – and use the average of the two readings.
Unless the two readings differ by more than 5mm Hg (millimeters of mercury)… in which case, they should take a third reading.
This may sound like a lot of trouble to go to… but it’s worth doing this simple test right. Done wrong, it can line you up for a lot of unnecessary medical hassles.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Burgess, S., et al., “Presentation title: Blood Pressure Rising: Is There a Difference between Current Clinical and Recommended Measurement Techniques?” AAFP 2010 Scientific Assembly. Oct 2010; Abstract RS015.
Smith, L., “New AHA Recommendations for Blood Pressure Measurement,” Am Fam Physician. Oct 1, 2005; 72(7): 1391-1398.
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