World Hypertension Day: Simple tips to ensure accurate blood pressure measurement

Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when the blood pressure increases to undesirable levels. It is the increased force exerted by blood against the walls of the artery. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is defined by a level greater than 130/80 mm Hg or 140/90 mm Hg, according to various guidelines.

“It is known as the silent killer. High blood pressure can cause significant damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and blood vessels. This can lead to a stroke, heart attack including heart failure and kidney failure, if not diagnosed early and treated appropriately,” said Dr S N Narasingan, President, Indian Society of Hypertension, Board Member World Hypertension League.

He added that India has a high prevalence of hypertension with almost one in every three Indian adults above the age of 60 being affected. The estimated prevalence of hypertension in our country is 29.8 per cent. This indicates how critical it is to treat and manage hypertension. Not only is the early detection of high blood pressure important but accurate measurement of BP in hypertensive people is very significant as it gives a clear picture of the cardiovascular risk.

“This is a big deal as a lot of people have BP that is on the borderline of having hypertension, and these small errors in BP measurements can sway one away from a proper diagnosis and treatment with the right medication. On the other hand, misreading true BP by even a minor mm Hg has the potential to mislabel someone as having high BP, resulting in unnecessary medication,” Dr Narasingan told indianexpress.com.

Hypertensive people usually get their BP checked through a health care provider in a clinic, at a pharmacy that offers to measure BP, or at home with a BP monitor. While measuring BP is one of the most common procedures there is often a chance to get inaccurate readings.

World Hypertension Day, World Hypertension Day theme 2021, what is hypertension, blood pressure, what is blood pressure, normal blood pressure, blood pressure causes, blood pressure treatment Early detection of high blood pressure is important as it gives a clear picture of cardiovascular risk, if any. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

On World Hypertension Day, Dr Narasingan lists a few key tips to ensure accurate BP measurement.

*The correct sized BP cuff needs to be put on the bare arm, putting the BP cuff over clothing can result in an increased reading
*Having an empty bladder is important, a full bladder can exaggerate BP readings
*Talking while taking BP readings should be avoided by the patient and the caretaker
*The arm should be supported at the level of the heart
*The back should be supported
*Sitting with uncrossed legs and feet should be on the floor
*Intake of food, caffeine, smoking and consumption of alcohol should be avoided 30 minutes before measurement
*In the case of home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM), minimum of three readings to be recorded and the average of the last two readings can be considered as the blood pressure

“These protocols are simple yet necessary and can go a long way in patient preparation and also help physicians, patients and the general public to get accurate BP measurement inside and outside clinical settings. As we are witnessing a pandemic the physicians are using digital platforms for consultation. Hence, HBPM is mandatory for every hypertensive patient which will enable the physicians to control the BP effectively and reduce the health risks,” he said.

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