Does Your Doctor Know Your Real Blood Pressure?
Tips On How To Be In Better Control of Your Blood Pressure Even When You Go to the Doctor
Are you one of those people who rarely go to the doctor? And when you finally make it in for that annual checkup, do you feel a twinge of anxiety? And what’s the first thing that happens? You walk in for your appointment and you wind up sitting for 20 or more minutes in a room full of sick people. Then, when they finally take you back to the cold exam room, the first thing the nurse does is to make you sit on that high uncomfortable exam table with no back support and you can’t even put your feet on the floor.
After you are subjected to this total lack of normalcy, the nurse (or probably even a lesser trained medical assistant) pops a thermometer in your mouth and proceeds to check your blood pressure and pulse. Unless you ask for the results you most likely won’t even be told. Was it high? Should you be worried?
Why Having Your BP Checked Only at the Doctor’s Office is a Problem
Have you ever thought about the fact your blood pressure can vary significantly during the day depending on your level of stress? And stressors can come in many forms, such as…
- Stimulants like a cup of coffee, a can of Mountain Dew, the latest “power drink” or a cigarette
- Maybe you worked all day before your appointment
- Or you failed to have a restful night’s sleep because you were a bit anxious about the appointment
- Someone cut you off in traffic, or you were late because of road construction
- Your boss just told you you’re working Saturday (and you were planning to go fishing)
And what if the person taking your blood pressure is lazy, or hasn’t the necessary training to understand the importance of being accurate… or worse, just doesn’t really care. Think this can’t happen? It certainly can (and does). When I was finishing up my nurse’s training, I was assigned to shadow the nurse in an OB/GYN clinic. Specifically, I was there to learn more about prenatal care. I watched the LPN take one blood pressure after another as these pregnant women came in for their appointments. The blood pressures she wrote down didn’t vary 10 points in the readings. For this to happen with 16 patients is a statistical anomaly. In other words, the likelihood of all these readings being accurate is very slim.
Because these readings were also in the “normal” range, they were unlikely to be checked by the doctor. And in many health care settings, even abnormal readings are rarely rechecked unless there is another reason. This means you could have a blood pressure reading high enough for your doctor to prescribe a medication that isn’t needed by you in a less stressful situation. Or fail to recognize you have a blood pressure that’s abnormal for you.
Stick around to read the conclusion, “How To Know More About Your Blood Pressure Than Your Doctor”