Health Watch: Blood pressure readings

HARTFORD -- Measuring blood pressure is one of the most common procedures performed at doctors’ offices every day, but according to the American Heart Association, it’s also one of the most common procedures to get wrong, both when done at home and in a doctor’s office.

“A patient may be stressed running from the parking lot to the clinic, they get roomed right away, and when they get their blood pressure measured, they haven't been sitting quietly and that can be inaccurate,” said Dr. Michael Hochman from the American Heart Association, “alternatively, the medical assistant may be in a rush and place that cuff over your clothing and that can lead to an inaccurate reading."

Those inaccurate readings can, in turn, lead to a misdiagnosis.

"Believe it or not some of these mistakes can lead to a 50 point difference in your blood pressure measurement,” said Hochman, “that's why it's so important to be aware of what these simple things are."

The American Heart Association said there are a few simple things you can do to make sure you get a more accurate reading:

- Empty your bladder before the reading.
- Sit with your back supported, legs uncrossed, and feet flat on the ground.
- Make sure your arm is supported at heart level.
- Make sure the blood pressure cuff fits over your bare arm, and fits your properly.