Measuring blood pressure is one of the most common procedures performed at a doctor’s offices every day.
But according to the American Heart Association, it’s also one of the most common procedures to get wrong.
For Officer Marcus Whitehead, knowing his numbers could be a matter of life or death.
“It was scary… it was really scary…because I thought of my two kids that I have.”
After getting his blood pressure checked, doctors diagnosed Whitehead with hypertension.
“It was a wakeup call that i really gotta get serious about taking more care of myself.”
According to the American Heart Association, it’s easy to make mistakes when checking blood pressure, whether you are doing it yourself or at a doctor’s office.
“A patient may be stressed running from the parking lot to the clinic, they get roomed right away and when they get there blood pressure measured. They haven’t been sitting quietly and that can be inaccurate. Alternatively the medical assistant may be in a rush and place that cuff over your clothing and that can lead to an inaccurate reading”, said Dr. Michael Hochman.
These errors can lead to a higher reading, which in turn leads to a misdiagnosis.
The American Heart Association has a few simple things you can do to make sure you get an accurate measurement.
First, empty your bladder ahead of the reading.
Second, sit with your back supported, feet flat on the ground and keep your legs uncrossed.
You also want to make sure your arm is at heart level and supported.
Next make sure the cuff is over a bare arm and fits you properly.
Finally, sit still and do not speak during the reading.
“Believe it or not, some of these mistakes can lead to a 50 point difference in your blood pressure measurement. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of what these simple things are”, Hochman said.