When you’ve become diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s typical to want to check your pressure at different times during the day. As with any other interest, your thoughts on the topic can pop into your head all day long. I know what it’s like to wonder if the activity I just performed or food I ate increased or lowered my blood pressure. These thoughts are normal and sometimes it leads you to want to wrap that cuff around your arm, press the start button and check your pressure.
Can you check your blood pressure too often? Yes, it’s unnecessary to check your blood pressure all day long. Your physician will advise you how often to check your blood pressure and at what time. It will depend on your treatment and condition. Typically, most medical experts suggest checking your pressure no more than 2 times a day.
If you’re monitoring your pressure at home, give yourself a pat on the back. More and more, medical experts are recommending people to take blood pressure measurements at home. Home monitoring can help you partner with your physician and improve your blood pressure goals (r). If you don’t and you’re thinking about purchasing your own monitor, you can check my blog post on the one I recommend.
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Checking Blood Pressure Too Often
During the day you perform all different kinds of activities and experience various stresses. It can be traffic, rude people, an angry boss or an annoying coworker. Or if you’re home, the news or exercise can change your body and how you feel. Because of these daily activities and experiences, your blood pressure will change throughout the day. You can check your blood pressure ten times a day, and all the readings will be different.
This is why most medical experts will recommend against checking blood pressure too often. If you took measurements all day, most of your readings wouldn’t reflect your body’s typical, normal pressure throughout the day.
If you are asked to take 2 measurements a day, typically one in the morning and another at night are ideal. Measure your pressure under the same conditions, around the same time of the day and in the same way as much as possible. Give yourself some time in the morning before taking your pressure. Measure it before eating breakfast, drinking anything or taking any medication. The 2nd measurement should be taken right before dinner (r).
Can Taking Blood Pressure Too Much Hurt You
As long as you use your blood pressure monitor as designed, taking your blood pressure too often should not hurt you. A home monitor releases the pressure in the cuff slower than a standard measurement at your doctor’s office. This can feel uncomfortable and possibly leave a mark on your skin. This is more likely to happen if you take your pressure too often or if your cuff size is too small.
It’s possible, in people who are at increased risk for capillary fragility, to experience a condition called tourniquet-induced petechiae. After prolonged compression of a blood pressure cuff, a red rash or red dots, can appear on the skin (r). Although rare, this condition has occurred to patients in a hospital after repeated blood pressure readings during monitoring or surgery.
The following are ways to prevent petechiae:
- Don’t take your blood pressure unnecessarily.
- Use the right size cuff.
- Position the cuff properly on your arm.
- Follow the instructions in your monitor manual.
In addition, taking your pressure too often can set back your blood pressure goals. This can hurt your progress, which leads me to the topic further down, When Not To Take Blood Pressure.
How Long You Should Wait Between Blood Pressure Readings
The American College of Cardiology and the new blood pressure guidelines recommend taking at least 2 to 3 readings, 1 minute apart (r). If you measure your blood pressure 2 times a day, this will equal taking your pressure 4-6 times a day in total. This wouldn’t be considered taking your blood pressure too often.
During the 1 minute break between readings, do not do anything that can alter your blood pressure. The things you should avoid before taking your blood pressure, should also be avoided between the 2 or 3 measurements. These activities may include the following:
- Standing up
- Changing your body position
- Drinking or eating
- Watching TV
Are You Taking Your Pressure Too Often Due To Fluctuations?
Your pressure can change throughout the day. Sometimes from minute to minute or hour to hour. Slight variations are normal but shouldn’t be a concern (r). Because of these fluctuations, you may take your blood pressure too often. The extra measurements aren’t necessary.
A common cause of getting different 2 different readings, even minutes apart can be because you didn’t prepare properly for the first reading. Something like being as unrelaxed as you should have been for the first reading is very common. By the time you take the 2nd measurement, your body has had a few more minutes to calm down and relax resultingly in a lower number.
When Not To Take Blood Pressure
If you are taking your blood pressure too often or not, there are certain times throughout the day you shouldn’t take your blood pressure. These situations, listed below, won’t hurt you but there’s a good chance it will result in a measurement too high or low. These measurements aren’t false, but they are not what your blood pressure would typically be. When you take your blood pressure too much, those measurements can occur more often. In addition, they may cause you to take it too much throughout the day.
- Taking your blood pressure in a cold area. Make sure your body is comfortable.
- When you exercised, ate, drank or smoked within 30 minutes of measuring your pressure.
- Taking a bath, cold or hot, within 20 minutes of measuring your BP.
- Performing an activity while you take your measurement. This includes watching TV, texting, walking, standing and talking on the phone.
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