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Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

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Old 08-23-2004, 06:55 AM   #1
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junior26 HB User
Can too many readings in a row affect BP?


I have anxiety related hypertension. When I take it at home, the first reading is usually around 150/95.

So, I usually take it about 20 times in a row. I usually wait a minute or so while the machine automatically shuts off, and then I take my pressure again. Even though I don't wait nearly as long as they say to wait, I raise my arm above my head between each reading. I have read that this is sufficient.

My numbers were something like...

Left arm...


Right arm...


Can I trust those numbers on my left arm? When I switch arms, it goes back to being high, but I think it's because I'm anticipating it will be high. I noticed that my pulse pressure is not that great. Do you think that's the anxiety still affecting the systolic?

Anyhow, after 13 years of asking myself "Do I have hypertension or not?", I'm quite pleased to see my numbers in the normal category. My only concern is, did I take my BP too many times in a row? Or can I trust those numbers?


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Old 08-23-2004, 01:34 PM   #2
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Rick7799 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

I don't think you are giving yourself enough time between readings. One time I took one reading after another just to see what happens. They got lower and lower just like yours. You have to give the arteries a chance to get the blood flowing normal again. You should wait about 5 minutes between readings.

If you have that much of a problem with anxiety, you should not take it that often. It just tends to make it go up. I know because I used to do the same thing. My internist told me to take it once every other day. Since I stared doing that my readings have been much better.

Old 08-23-2004, 02:27 PM   #3
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Tamsin HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

Hi There,

I'm sorry, I don't understand. What do you mean your numbers are "normal"? I thought the latest standard for normal is 120/80. Or maybe that's just "optimal".

Can someone clear this up for me?

Old 08-24-2004, 01:19 AM   #4
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zuzu8 HB Userzuzu8 HB Userzuzu8 HB Userzuzu8 HB Userzuzu8 HB Userzuzu8 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?


I agree with you that there's a lot of confusion about the new guidelines for hypertension. And not just for the patients but also for our physicians.

As you know, the new criteria (in the U.S.) comes from the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC).

JNC reports have been published at regular intervals for more than 30 years. The latest report is called JNC 7.

The aim of the new definition of pre-hypertension (BP 120-139/80-89 mmHg) is to make us AND our doctors more proactive regarding lifestyle changes when we fall into that category.

Blood pressure lower than 120/80 is considered "optimal".
The report is advising doctors to tell patients who fall into the "pre-hypertension" range who don't have damage to the heart or kidneys to make needed lifestyle changes only.

JUNIOR- your systolic BP even at home in a relaxed environment is on the high side, especially given your age, and I know you mentioned in a few other posts that you are rather "inactive". Regular exercise will do your BP a world of good! No kidding!

zuzu xx

Old 08-24-2004, 01:25 AM   #5
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healthgoods HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

wow answered on of my questions =0

Old 08-24-2004, 05:13 AM   #6
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jtu91952 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

I was told by my gp that 130/80 was a good bp for me. Also i saw on the news (abc) a Havard dr said bp over 140/80 was extreme bp and needed to be treated.

Old 08-24-2004, 06:30 AM   #7
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junior26 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

Rick7799, actually, when I wait longer than a couple of minutes, my anxiety builds up and the numbers are high again. That's why I take the readings closer apart. For example, if I was to get an ambulatory monitor, it would be high all the time because it takes the measurements 15 minutes apart. For me, that's enough time to build up anxiety. I just really hope that I'm not affecting the numbers THAT much by taking them close together. I mean, after the 5th time or so, the numbers stay pretty much the same and fluctuate up and down. But I'll ask a doctor, just to be sure. But most machines I have seen with interval settings can be set from 1-5 minutes. But I've read over and over that 2 minutes is accepted as the clinical standard and is often the waiting time used in BP studies. The next time I take my BP, I will at least alternate arms for each reading, which should give enough time before returning to the same arm.

Tamsin, anything below 140/90 is normal. 130/81 - 139/89 is "pre-hypertension", but still in the normal range. They call it pre-hypertension because most people in this range are apt to getting hypertension, and will probably get hypertension when continuing their current lifestyle.

The standards are changing so quickly. For example, the BP machines at my local Wal-Mart and drug stores still have the old standards written on them:

140/90 or below : Normal
141/91 to 159/95 : High-Normal
160/96 or higher : High

I'm not saying that this is the optimal BP, but nevertheless, this old standard was the standard that our parents and grandparents lived by, most having never developed any heart related problems when followed correctly.

Last edited by junior26; 08-24-2004 at 06:59 AM.

Old 08-24-2004, 07:09 AM   #8
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Tamsin HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

Originally Posted by junior26
I'm not saying that this is the optimal BP, but nevertheless, this old standard was the standard that our parents and grandparents lived by, most having never developed any heart related problems when followed correctly.
Hey Junior,

I think many of our parents and grandparents *died* (and are dying) with that standard, given that heart disease is the number one killer in the US.

Somebody is dying from this stuff!

Old 08-24-2004, 07:24 AM   #9
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crabbyroad HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?


I tend to agree with Rick, I was in the same boat as you, I complusively took my BP, always having a higher number and subsquent readings eventually coming down. But this itself causes anxiety.

I waited the 3 mins, but I felt like I couldnt get away from my machine until the numbers dropped, or I stayed keyed up the whole day if they didnt drop enough for me.

My doctor noticed this as my husband was with me on an appointment, he said the stress of worrying about my BP constantly was worse than having high BP. He ordered me to only take it once a day, regardless of the number as long as my systolic wasnt above 160 and the bottom number wasnt over 100. ( I was on medication). I admit it was very hard in the beginning not to want to grab my monitor and go hide in the bathroom where my husband couldnt hear me, inflating and deflating constantly. But I did manage it, and as Rick said, I became less sensitized to worrying about it, I would take a good walk as Zuzu suggested, and relax, My numbers within a week, just at one sitting, were reducing. I was stressing less, now I can take it without have the white coat effect at home as you are experiencing. I have anxiety related myself (panic attacks), and it was controlling my life by dwelling on it.

Old 08-24-2004, 08:05 AM   #10
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junior26 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

Crabbyroad, that's exactly the way I feel about taking my pressure. I have to take it over and over until I see the numbers drop. I was finally feeling great about my BP getting lower after all these years of worrying, until I came here, where people suggested I wasn't waiting long enough between readings. I was ready to forget about my BP for a while, but now, people have be convinced that I'm doing it wrong.

However, I found some text from a BP study, where they take 10 measurements, 1 minute apart. This has reassured me that one minute between readings is sufficient time. Especially considering the fact that I raise my arm above my heart bewteen each reading.

Here's a sample of the text...

"On each measurement day each woman measured her blood pressure five times: on first rising and then at 10 AM, 2 PM, 6 PM and 10 PM. At each measurement session the blood pressure was automatically taken 10 times at 1-minute intervals. A total of 23,790 individual blood pressure measurements were analyzed."

Old 08-27-2004, 12:19 AM   #11
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naes HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

When I went to the doctor for a sore throat and they did the routine blood pressure check, I instantly got really worried when she was wrapping up my arm. She took it and it was 140/80 and she was just shocked (cause I was only 16 at the time, not overweight) and she got another nurse to check it... but when the other nurse came in and checked it, it was no more than 1 minute from the last reading. Heh. But they do blood pressure checking all wrong there.. they just throw you up on a bench and slap the cuff on right away and you rest your arm on your leg.. lol.. thats far below my heart.

Old 08-27-2004, 06:50 AM   #12
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junior26 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

From the studies that I've seen, taking BP at one minute intervals is quite standard. So if it's the only way that it will bring down my readings, I will keep taking it this way. It makes me feel better and less stressed about my body, which in turn, brings down my pressure even more.

I just don't know why the slightest bit of anxiety makes my BP jump to insane levels like that. Maybe I'll start another thread...

Old 08-28-2004, 07:18 AM   #13
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Rain820 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

Hey folks, I have a question regarding this as well. Anytime I"ve been to doctors, my BP has always been good or even low. I actually had a doctor appointment last week for a check up, and nothing was out of the ordinary. But when I feel stressed, I take it and it's kind of high, like 141/96. Now, yesterday I was stressed all day, very anxious, heart racing, etc. I have a feeling that my body is just tense lately because I have a lot going on, I've been a wreck dealing with recent allergies (which I've posted about on other threads). But mostly this last week has been HELL because my Mom went in for emergency surgery last Friday night. She is okay now and coming home today, but I've been a wreck because each day it was hard, going to see her at the hospital, and then seeing her go from worse to slightly better each day. I mean, I know that's all good news, but I'm just saying how it affected me.

So yesterday, since I felt all tense, I took my BP a few times and it was 141/96. Then 2 minutes later, it was 135/94. I came home and was considerly less stressed, took it again, and it was 147/87, still kind of high. I ignored it for a while, took it at 11:00 PM and it was 137/86. I felt better cuz I thought it was more normal. But then, I fell asleep a bit, and went down at 12:30 am to check it thinking I'm the most relaxed I could be, but it was 138/101! Then a few mins later, it was 126/94. I went to bed and after much tossing and turning, finally fell asleep.

Now this morning, I get up at 9:30 am, it's 135/90. A few mins later, 123/85. And again, a few mins later, 115/85. I figured, OK I'm being too obsessive. Let me do some things. I did some stretching excercises, nothing strenuous at all, I'm trying to learn some yoga stretches because I'm obviously stressed and tense a lot. Then I Put some dishes away, and waited a few mins. NOw I check it at 9:55 and it was 123/103...I got worried but figured, maybe because I just did a few things? So again, I waited a minute or so, took it and it was 122/80.

So my questions are, obviously I know I'm taking it too often and too much, but how can it drop that quickly in a few minutes, and which numbers should I take to be true? I never have had any issues with BP, if anything at times doctors told me it was more on the low side. So I would imagine that the stress of this week is taking it's toll on it. Besides me being all tense in general, and Mom being sick, I'm also stressed out at work, and need to take of Mon & Tues to take care of Mom, so I have that worrying me also. Should I run to the doctor yet to have him check all this, or should I assume it's just the stress of everything, and wait a bit till things settle down? I have been to him a lot recently with the allergies/asthma, and again, the BP was never an issue. Any thoughts?

Old 09-02-2004, 10:02 AM   #14
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junior26 HB User
Re: Can too many readings in a row affect BP?

That's where things get confusing for me too. Normally, if you take your BP over and over within a few minutes of each other, if the arteries are that affected by the cuff squeezing, etc, the BP should be getting lower and lower each time, right?

But in my case, and in your case, the numbers fluctuate up and down quite a bit within minutes. Not just down. Man, believe me, if I had a single reading of 115/85 just once, I would be the happiest person in the world. Unfortunately, mine has never gone as low as yours. The lowest I've ever seen was 130/79, and that was after taking 15 times in a row after waiting only 1 minute between each reading.

I can't just go see a cardiologist. In Canada, we must be referred to a specialist by our GP. Not just anybody can go to a cardiologist and say "I want to have an ambulatory monitor".

I went to the chiropractor yesterday, and she took my BP. It was 190/90! At the CHIROPRACTOR! Man, I need serious mental help.

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