6 blood-pressure goofs you can fix

(OregonLive.com) — YOU Docs fans know the 411 for great blood pressure: Eat a diet that tastes great but is devoid of the five food felons (saturated fats, trans fats, simple sugars, added syrups and any grains that are not 100 percent whole grains), walk 10,000 steps a day, and relax regularly with meditation, some cuddling and/or yoga.

But there are six common goof-ups when your health care provider checks your pressure — and they throw off the reading 93 percent of the time! If you’re not tested using “gold standard” procedures, the top number (your heart’s pumping pressure) probably is off by at least five points, and the bottom number (your resting pressure) by two points. That’s enough to change the prescribed medical treatments of 45 percent of patients!

So we’d like to offer you six brilliant blood pressure moves to make sure you get the most accurate reading possible. If you check your pressure at home, follow these, too, for spot-on results.

Move No. 1: Don’t get “cuffed” too quickly. Waiting five minutes after you come into the exam room erases the effects of whatever you did to get to the doc’s office on time. Walking fast boosts your reading by five to 14 points, and driving in traffic raises BP nine to 14 points. Don’t be shy about insisting you have time to rest before the test. Plus, keep quiet: Talking or listening to the practitioner during your check can raise both of your BP numbers by 10 points. We know there is little enough time to spend talking with the doc, but you’ll have to grab it after the test!

Move No. 2: Be sure your body is well-supported. An “off” position — sitting to one side, for example — can increase your blood pressure. Sit with your back/lumbar supported, feet flat on the floor, legs never crossed. Your BP cuff should be at your heart level (at-home testers who use a wrist cuff, keep your arm and wrist at heart level, too). These steps can prevent a two- to 11-point increase in readings.   Move No. 3: Get the right-size cuff. Whether you’re extra-large or petite, match the cuff to your arm size. One that’s too tiny can raise your numbers by 10 points. One that’s too big makes your reading lower than reality.  

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