The way you sit
Next time the nurse tells you to hop up on the exam table so they can take your blood pressure, don’t. “When you’re sitting like that with your feet dangling, you’re almost between sitting and standing. This can affect your reading because your blood pressure is different when you’re standing versus lying down,” says Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. The proper position is seated in a chair with your back flat against the chair back and your feet flat on the floor (no crossing allowed!). Any good doctor should accept your request to sit in a chair instead of atop a crinkly exam table, she says. Don’t miss eight more doctor appointment mistakes you didn’t realize your were making.
How you hold your arm
If your arm isn’t supported, blood pressure readings can get messed up. “Your arm should be flat on a table or supported by the person taking your pressure, it shouldn’t just be hanging in the air,” says Dr. Goldberg. If your arm is too high or low, it can affect how hard your heart has to pump to keep blood flowing, which then affects your blood pressure.
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Your bathroom schedule
“Empty your bladder right before your exam,” says Dr. Goldberg. “A full bladder might raise your blood pressure.”