Many people monitoring their blood pressure at home take one reading and puts the machine away. Others, will take multiple readings in a row and obtain different results. I get asked this question many times and want to give you the answer to the question. Can I take multiple blood pressure readings in a row?
You can take multiple blood pressure readings in a row. The American Heart Association recommends taking 2-3 measurements about one minute apart. Two to three readings will minimize random errors and provide more accuracy for estimation of blood pressure.
Keep reading, and I’ll explain to you in complete detail how to perform this sequence as accurately as possible. It’s crucial to monitor and record accurate readings for your blood pressure maintenance and program. Inaccurate measurements can play tricks on your mind and make it more difficult on your doctor’s diagnosis and treatment.
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Can I Take Multiple Blood Pressure Readings In A Row?
Many times the first blood pressure reading is higher than the subsequent readings 1. There are many reasons why this may happen which you can read about in my blog post, First Blood Pressure Reading Always High. It’s one of the reasons why measuring two to three times is ideal. Only taking it once increases the chances for an inaccurate diagnosis of your pressure.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommends 2-3 measurements for a medical staff and for you at home 2. Some of the home monitors can be programmed to do this automatically. One of the three monitors I recommend, the Omron 10 series, is one of those monitors. Check it out and the other two in my blog post, Home Blood Pressure Monitors.
How Long Should You Wait Between Blood Pressure Readings In A Row?
When taking multiple blood pressure readings in a row, there should be one minute between each reading. The one-minute rest prevents prolonged compression of the blood pressure cuff on your blood vessels and skin. In addition, it allows your body to relax again while waiting for the next measurement.
I’m sure you’ve heard how you should have five minutes of quiet time before measuring your blood pressure 3. It’s important to note, during the minute breaks between readings, you should be practicing the same quiet time.
During the one minute, don’t perform other activities to help pass the time. I know it can be time consuming to sit in a chair quietly for about 10 minutes in total time. That includes the five minutes before measuring, the time it takes the monitor to measure and the one minute rests in between. Remaining calm and quiet for the whole time is important for the process.
Should The First Blood Pressure Reading Be Discarded?
If you prepared properly for your blood pressure measurements, the first reading should be undiscarded. All blood pressure readings should be recorded and shown to your physician. Blood pressure should be based on an average of readings from two or more occasions.
Sometimes people don’t prepare properly for the first reading like skipping the five minutes of quiet time. In this situation the first reading wouldn’t be a true indication and shouldn’t have been taken in the first place.
Even though you’re taking two or three measurements you’ll probably get different blood pressure readings within minutes 4. If you followed all the steps listed above, the readings shouldn’t differ too much. Record all the readings in the following manner:
- On your monitor if it keeps a record for you.
- On your BP phone app. My monitor connects to my phone BP app and transmits all the readings to my phone. It keeps track of the readings, dates and times. It also organizes them into handy charts and allows me to email them to my physician. I absolutely love this feature, and it’s included with the monitor! My monitor is made by Welch Allyn, you can read my complete, detailed review by clicking here, Welch Allyn 1700 Series Home Monitor.
- You can also jot it down on paper or a blood pressure log. It doesn’t really matter how you record them, as long as you do.
Avoid Common Errors While Taking Multiple Readings In A Row
Avoid these common errors 5 while resting in between measurements:
- Talking on the phone.
- Checking the latest stock market prices.
- Reading or watching the news.
- Getting out of your chair to do a task quickly.
- Changing your body position like crossing your legs or slouching.
- Taking a quick drink or snacking on some food close by.
- Anything other than sitting quietly and remaining relaxed.
In addition to those activities to avoid, prior to starting the first reading make sure to do the following 6:
- Don’t exercise within 30 minutes.
- Don’t eat or drink within 30 minutes.
- Avoid all caffeine 30 minutes prior to measuring.
- Don’t smoke 30 minutes prior.
- Empty your bladder prior to measuring your blood pressure or make sure you’re not experiencing the urge to use the bathroom.
- Wear comfortable clothes including short sleeve shirts.
- Sit in an upright chair with your back resting against the chair.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t cross your legs.
- Wrap the cuff around your bare skin and not over clothing, including thin material.
- Maintain your arm in the correct position and the cuff at heart level.
If there’s any doubt about how to position your arm 7 or to achieve heart level, please refer to my blog post and refresh yourself on these two crucial details, Effect of Arm Position on Blood Pressure.
Is Checking Your Blood Pressure Two to Three Times Too Often?
Checking your blood pressure two to three times is not too often and recommended by the American College of Cardiology. They recommend taking at least two readings, one minute apart in the morning before taking medications and in the evening before dinner.
This is the general recommendation but depending on your condition, your physician may prefer something else. Always follow the recommendation of your doctor as every patient’s situation may differ 2.
Measuring your blood pressure all day long or more than recommended by the physician is unnecessary. Your pressure will fluctuate throughout the day, and the readings are going to differ. It doesn’t make any sense and is counterproductive. Doing so can also play on your mind and cause undesired stress. Do yourself a favor and take it when you’re supposed to.
Read Next – Other Blood Pressure Topics You’ll Find Interesting
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The effect of the first office blood pressure reading on hypertension-related clinical decisions
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology: 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults
- Hypertension: Measurement of Blood Pressure in Humans: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
- Wiley Online Library: The Utility of Repeating Automated Blood Pressure Measurements in the Primary Care Office
- Harvard Health: Avoid these common blood pressure measuring mistakes
- The American Heart Association: Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home
- Harvard Health: Choosing and using a home blood pressure monitor