How to Take Accurate Blood Pressure Readings


Most dysautonomia physicians discourage their patients from taking blood pressure and heart rate readings without physician specific orders to do so. The doctors don’t want their patients obsessing over readings. However, if you are asked to take your blood pressure we want you to know how to do it properly.

You will find a chart for taking Standing Blood Pressure for POTS on the DYNA web site resources page. You can use this chart for your own use (if directed by your physician to take readings or you can provide it to your pediatrician or GP).

Ground rules

Taking your blood pressure at home is fraught with potential errors that can stand between you and a valid assessment of your condition. Do not take it at home unless instructed by your physician.

Initially, take the blood pressure in each arm and document any difference in the reading. After that, use the arm that gave the higher reading (unless your machine or your doctor instructs you to use a particular arm).


Cuff size

Incorrect cuff size is a major source of equipment-related errors. A cuff that's too small will produce a falsely high reading; one that's too large, a falsely low reading.

To check for proper cuff size, the American Heart Association recommends comparing the cuff with your arm. The length of the bladder should be at least 80% of the arm's circumference.


Keep it consistent

Use the same machine each time. Replace the batteries frequently (as weak batteries can impact readings).

Wear roughly the same type of clothing each time. If you have on light weight long sleeves, don't pull up the shirtsleeve: it can easily block circulation at the upper arm. Leave it down or wear short sleeves.


Things that may impact your reading

  • Maintain your composure or the measurement will be inaccurate (emotions will impact readings).
  • Room temperature impacts readings. Aim for a consistent room temperature.
  • Your salt intake, fluid intake and certain foods or beverages (caffeine, alcohol), medications, room temperature etc. will all change the results.
  • Stress, emotions, chewing gum, coughing, talking, curling your toes, leaning against something, room temperature, etc. ALL impact the results of blood pressure readings.

Take your machine to your doctor’s office during appointments and have them check it for accuracy.


Recommended Materials

Procedure for Taking Standing Blood Pressure