Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is the proper way to take a blood pressure reading at home?"
According to instructions that came with my Omron BP monitor, I sit still and don't talk for about 5 minutes before taking my blood pressure. When I do this, I get very good readings. (These are the same instructions given on Web MD and Mayo Clinic websites.) At my doctor's office the nurse leads me down two long hallways, at top speed, then sits me down to take my bp. Reading are then high. Is my way of taking my blood pressure at all meaningful? Or should my bp be "normal" if I've just taken a brisk walk or sat talking and laughing for a while?
This is an age-old problem that all doctors face when trying to determine if someone should be treated for high blood pressure. I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician for this problem. In your case, you have a blood pressure cuff that is showing normal measurements at home when you are relaxed, but the doctors blood pressure call shows high measurements when you are there. Sometimes this is called white coat hypertension. It is the term that we use to describe people that are only hypertensive, or have high blood pressure, when they are at their doctor's office. What I usually do is have my patients write down the blood pressure readings that they get on their cuff, and bring them into the next visit. In addition, you should bring this blood pressure cuff with you so that your blood pressure can be read alongside the cuff at the doctor's office. If they measure the same pressure, then what that means is that you only have high blood pressure and the office and it should not be treated. If your cuff shows low blood pressure whereas the other cuff shows high blood pressure than this might mean that your cuff is not accurate and that you should be treated for your high blood pressure. Again, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician for this problem.
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