Avoiding blood pressure measurement errors – Part 3

We’ve looked at blood pressure measurement issues before. Please see:

Now we look at yet another error source, stress, and one’s state of mind.

While I was taking my blood pressure readings one particular day, I repeated the measurement several times and in between measurements, I did a little reading from the September 2023 issue of Scientific American. The articles were of great interest. Then I spotted something.

Noting that I had eaten a rather salty chicken dinner at a local diner just a few hours before, when I was reading the first three articles as shown below, my average systolic pressure was roughly ten numbers higher than when I was reading the last four articles. Diastolic readings were similarly affected.

Systolic and diastolic pressures while reading various topics.

Salt from the dinner aside, my state of mind responses to the article topics were demonstrably affecting the medical measurement values.

There is something called “doctor’s office syndrome” where a patient who is very nervous and uncomfortable with having to be examined by a doctor tends to develop elevated blood pressure right then and there. I am personally acquainted with at least one person (not myself) who experiences that effect.

When I’m at a doctor’s office and my blood pressure is measured, I’m often (but not always) told to relax before the measurement is made.

With good reason, it would seem!!

John Dunn is an electronics consultant, and a graduate of The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (BSEE) and of New York University (MSEE).

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