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How to Relax During a Blood Pressure Test

Natalie
Stein
December 18, 2020
How to Relax During a Blood Pressure Test
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Home blood pressure tests are part of daily life for many people with hypertension, and measurements at the doctor's office can be important milestones.

Both types of tests let you know how well your blood pressure management program is working. It may be working well, or you may need to make some adjustments to lower, or increase, your blood pressure based on the results of your tests. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), advises that you take your blood pressure at least once a day, and at a consistent time.

Because blood pressure tests are so important, and sometimes uncomfortable, they can be stressful. That is a problem because anxiety and nerves while taking these tests can raise your reading so that it is not an accurate indicator of your true heart health.

This fear of having your blood pressure checked may be caused by another factor, white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension (WHT) as defined by the Mayo Clinic. This is when people in clinical situations, such as a clinic or doctor's office, can experience stress from the surrounding environment. Environmental stress in turn can cause a spike in blood pressure, which can cause falsely inflate readings.

There are ways to relax during a home or even in-office blood pressure test so you can get a good reading.

1. Time it well

Timing is important when it comes to taking blood pressure. It is best to take it more than 30 minutes after exercise, taking caffeine, or eating a meal. That is because those activities can get in the way of relaxation: consider the jitters you may feel after having caffeine, or the excitement you may feel after exercising.

2. Go to the bathroom

A full bladder raises blood pressure, and thinking about a full bladder can get in the way of relaxing. If you need a bathroom, it is better to go before taking the test rather than holding it while you take your measurements.

3. Wait for a few minutes

Waiting for a few minutes after getting in the proper position lets you rest and relax before taking your blood pressure. Lark has tips on the correct position, such as placing your arm on a flat surface with the upper arm at heart level, keeping your legs uncrossed, and sitting upright on a chair with a back.

4. Check your breathing

Breathing normally during the test will get you the most accurate result. If you notice yourself breathing too hard or holding your breath before you start measuring, you can try taking three long, deep breaths to relax.

5. Visualize

Visualization can help you relax while waiting for your measurement to start. You might think about having a good result, especially if you have been taking your medications properly and following other recommendations from Lark.

6. Make small talk

If you are in a doctor's office, on the other hand, making small talk while you wait with the nurse or other provider who is checking your blood pressure can keep your mind off the upcoming measurement. A short pleasant conversation can be relaxing.

7. Keep practicing

The more you practice, the more routine your blood pressure test will become. You can take your measurements one or more times a day at home, and practice getting it checked outside the home by going to grocery stores and pharmacies with monitors available. Eventually, the nerves that come with the measurement will diminish. Lark can help you keep practicing as it reminds you to take your blood pressure, automatically tracks your measurements, and offers summaries on how you are doing with your blood pressure trends.

8. Live a healthy lifestyle

The most important thing you can do to be able to relax during a blood pressure test is to be confident that your blood pressure is the best that it can be. That may mean making choices such as taking medications as prescribed, following a nutritious diet high in vegetables and fruit and low in sugars and sodium, and staying physically active. On average, participants in the Lark program reduce their blood pressure significantly! That means living a longer, healthier life!

9. Uncross your legs

Although it seems simple, crossing your legs can affect your readings! A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCIB) found that crossing your legs at the knees (one leg over the other), increased readings by 8 mm/Hg. Over time, crossing your legs consistently during your blood pressure tests can cause you to have falsely high readings!

By following these tips, you can get the best (and most accurate) blood pressure readings! Although doing these things will not cause your high blood pressure to go away, they will help you to get a more accurate reading which can help you better monitor your health journey.

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