How to Avoid an Inaccurate Blood Pressure Reading


How to Avoid an Inaccurate Blood Pressure Reading

by Dr. Julian Whitaker


Most Medical Staff Don’t Follow Testing Guidelines

Texas researchers enrolled patients with blood pressures higher than 120/80 and tested them according to the standard—but rarely followed—guidelines:

  • Sitting in a chair with a back support
  • Feet planted on the floor
  • Legs uncrossed for five minutes
  • No restrictive clothing
  • No caffeine
  • No exercise or tobacco for at least 30 minutes prior to testing

The tester made sure the cuff was sized and the arm placed appropriately, and two separate blood pressure readings were taken and averaged (plus a third if the first two varied by more than 5 mmHg).

The results were astounding. When these guidelines were followed, average systolic/diastolic pressures were 15.7/8.2 mmHg lower, going from 146.4/87.6 to 130.7/79.4.…

Other Factors That Contribute to Inaccurate Blood Pressure Readings

  • Uncalibrated equipment
  • “Interobserver reliability” (different nurses or doctors getting different results)
  • White coat hypertension (elevation due to doctor-induced anxiety)


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