By Bill Peckham
I've heard two presentations in the last couple weeks where the proper way to take a blood pressure was explained:
- Before the test, sit for five minutes with your back supported and your feet flat on the ground.
- Rest your arm on a table at the level of your heart.
- Wear short sleeves so your arm is exposed. ...
- Get two readings, taken at least two minutes apart, and average the results.
I actually hadn't been doing any of this, and I don't think I've ever had someone take my blood pressure correctly.
Most of the time at the doctors office I'm sitting on the edge of an exam table with feet dangling, back not supported and it's taken with my arm by my side - never supported at heart level. Not to mention that at the doctors you're often being asked questions or conversing during the process. At home I would have to purposely sit quietly for five minutes (not talking isn't an issue) and then stack some pillows to get my arm level with my heart. And then take a second reading two quiet minutes later. I haven't seen any data on how much BP readings are impacted by each element or several taken together, but a wrong reading is a wrong reading.
This article from the American Medical Association offers a solution:
This might be hard to implement in the doctors office (though I can imagine that instead of reading old magazines while waiting at the doctor's, there could be purpose built blood pressure cubicles that would take a series of BP readings while soothing wellness messages were looped on a computer monitor) but this could be done at home. Blood pressure control is a key to health no matter what stage of CKD but it is critical for those using dialysis to manage CKD5. Getting an accurate reading would be the place to start good BP control. How to take an accurate reading should be common knowledge but so long as bad habits are modeled, people will continue to get and base their care on, incorrect readings.