I just proved an incredibly important way to measure your blood pressure!


Last week, I had found my blood pressure quite high for me! Upper 140’s and some 150’s for my Systolic, and upper 90’s and lower 100’s for my Diastolic.   Stage One hypertension!  I was pretty sure my 4 grains may suddenly be a tad too high since entering meno.  My temps and heartrate implied that, too.

I got off Armour for two days to use up some excess, got back on one, then on 2 grains multi-dosed.  My plan is to make my way back up to 3 1/2 grains by a week or slightly more…and see.

In the meantime, I have been using some blood pressure lowering supplements (high dose potassium, grape seed extract, Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar in juice, more CoQ10 than normal, plus my regular supplements).  I was more faithful to my treadmill walking (thanks to an April that still thinks it’s winter), and meditating. The latter two definitely helped lower both the Systolic and Diastolic, even if not low enough for my ideal.

For the last five days, my BP readings have still been too high. All those days, I had been seated on our couch. I put a pillow in my lap, laying my arm on that pillow, which meant my arm was slightly downward.  Sometimes my wrist would hang off the pillow.

Today, I decided I wanted to test something I have read. Namely, it’s actually quite important how you place your arm. The recommended way is placing your arm perpendicular to your body and at the height of your heart or a tad higher, all while comfortable resting on something.  Elbow can be flexed, but your arm must still be perpendicular to your body and about heart height or slightly higher.

Below are four of my most recent afternoon BP readings with pulse: two with the Left arm, then two with the Right arm.

L:  139/106   98  (arm hanging down and resting on seated leg)
L:  122/88 89  (arm up, perpendicular to my body, supported by pillows)
R:  141/87     92  (arm hanging down and resting on pillow)
R:  123/85 89 (arm up, perpendicular to my body, supported by pillows)

What you should note is that the first L reading, and the first R reading, were with the arm relaxed on a pillow but lower than my heart.  The second of each is with the arm on two pillows, putting it perpendicular to my heart,  with elbow flexed, and all of arm completely supported.

I was shocked! Putting my arms in what research is saying is the CORRECT position gave me much better readings. I am VERY pleased with the 122 and 123.  Much better. And though the 88 and 83 Diastolics are not to my liking yet, and tell me I need more work, the difference between the arm positions was stunning….as is the difference in what I’ve been getting for five days.

More info: it was brought to my attention that taking a second BP reading is usually always lower anyway. Ah, I thought, that’s correct! So to test this information based on research, I went back last night before bedtime. First took my BP with my arm in the upper correct position. Then the second time, took it with my arm down.

138/89 (up perpendicular to body; level with heart) pulse 80
146/100 (arm down) pulse 82

The second did NOT go down. It went UP! Interesting.

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**Are you in the US and want to help make sure we don’t end up like the UK, having our Armour taken away?? In the post below, I have given you SEVEN STEPS that I hope you will follow through on!  YOU can make a difference.

8 Responses to “I just proved an incredibly important way to measure your blood pressure!”

  1. Judy J.

    You have found the secret. Also note that as long as your lower number is below 80 you are doing good. Some doctors will not bother or be bothered if the upper number is a little high as it varies with exercise, medications, nervousness, heat, etc. One physician shared with me that once you are over 50 and as long as the upper number isn’t higher than your age and the lower number is less than 80 you should be ok. The arm position is very important as the heart has to work harder to push blood to extremities is the arm is lower or higher than the heart.
    If you are like me with Fibromyalgia the pumping of the cuff too high causes so much pain that my upper number shoots up but my lower number usually is 70 to 75 and I am on 4 grains right now.

  2. ibeji

    @Judy J.: If your upper number was lower than your age, you would probably be in a coma from hypotension… (at least when using the usual metric mm Hg scale, where a typical healthy blood pressure is 120/80)

    @all: Another useful thing to observe when measuring the blood pressure is the DIFFERENCE between upper systolic and lower diastolic value: this difference should be around 50.

    Less difference means you are hypothyroid, a higher difference means you are hyperthyroid.

    When you are unsure which of the two states you are actually in (e.g. because you have hypothyroid and hyperthyroid symptoms at the same time), this can give you a hint whether you should lower or upper your dose of thyroid hormones.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Louise

    There are some other things to remember too, and they are especially important if you are overweight, as so mnay of us thyroid patients are. There are studies which show as many as 50% of obese people told they are hypertensive are actually normal thanks to poor knowlege about how to correctly take a BP measurement.

    -MOST IMPORTANTLY – use the correct cuff size. Measure your bicep at the level of your heart with a tape measure, and make sure it is within the range printed on the BP cuff. It doesn’t matter if the cuff will go around your arm anyway, what matters is the bladder size inside the cuff. For most brands, the “regular” cuff is for adult arms up to 13.5″. The “large” cuff is for arms 13.5″-17.5″. If your arm is 17.5″-20.5″, you will need a “thigh” or “Extra-large” cuff. If your arm is larger than 20.5″ your doctor may need to order a special XXL cuff. If you are borderline, take a reading with two cuff sizes. Note that most BP cuffs are printed with the measurement in centimeters, so multiply your inch measurement by 2.5. THIS REALLY MATTERS. Don’t let the nurse or doc tell you it doesn’t. It DOES. A too-small cuff can make your readings over 10 points higher than they actually are. Even if they insist, you can in fact refuse. Don’t let them bully you into putting an artificially high reading in your record. IT MATTERS. Know your arm measurement in inches and centimeters and stick to your guns.

    -BP should be taken seated, with feet flat on the ground, not crossed, and the back supported. The non-reading arm should hang freely and as above, the reading arm should be supported correctly by the nurse or use a pillow etc.

    -Don’t talk during the cuff pumping/measurement!! Neither the doc/nurse or patient should talk.

    -Don’t put the cuff on over clothes.

    -Don’t pump the cuff up too high. Lots of docs/nurses assume that if you are overweight you WILL have high BP and so pump up the cuff a lot. They should try a normal inflation first and if they can’t in fact get a reading because you do have high BP, then they can reinflate.

    -If it hurts it’s probably going to raise your BP a little too.

    -“White coat hypertension” exists too. This is where people get anxious about having their BP taken, but the BP is normal if measured at home by themselves, or checked using 24hr ambulatory monitoring.

  4. Louise

    Here is really helpful document – the guideline from the American Heart Association on taking BP correctly. May be handy to print out and show your doctor or nurse too if they are not familiar with the above points.


  5. Milton

    BP numbers; subtract the smaller from the larger and divide by the pulse to get the mm Hg per pulse, less than one is favored.

  6. Michelle

    I could not figure out why I started having high blood pressure readings shortly being diagnosed with hypothyroidism (140s-150s/90s). My initial doctor simply wanted to put me on low dose bp medication, but I wasn’t having it. I went to a cardiologist who put me on a diet of 2000 mg of sodium or less per day. At the end of the month my bp was in the high 120s-130s/80s. Though I thought that was a great improvement, he still wanted to put me on bp meds but I didn’t do it. I’m glad, because now, as long as I watch my diet, my bp is always in the 120s/80s range, and quite frankly, I would have never went to a doctor for bp in that range. Still, I have always thought there had to be a link to either my hashimoto caused hypothyroidism, or to the meds I was taking for it (levothyroxine). Today I found the abstract of an article that seems to suggest that it could very well just be the hypothyroidism. Though you can’t read the full article without payment, I thought I would share the link in case anyone else is having similar issues. Perhaps treating high blood pressure with hypothryodism is as simple as cutting out the salt. http://www.nature.com/ajh/journal/v14/n10/full/ajh2001176a.html

  7. Elaine Cuthbert

    Janie–I may not be understanding your description here but it sounds like you are saying to raise the whole arm and have it perpendicular to the body to get a proper reading…I am a nurse and was trained that you extend the arm out in front of your body, slightly turned out, so that the hand is open, palm facing up, and with the lower arm (or forearm) slightly bent (up to 45-degrees) resting on a flat surface or pillow. Also important if not as important is where you put the cuff. It should be about 1/2 inch above the elbow as then the CUFF will be at heart level. Then be sure that the tube feeding the cuff bladder is sitting in line with your brachial artery (imagine a line running through the middle of the crook of your arm right through to your middle finger). Then pump up cuff, manually or automatically depending on the blood pressure monitor you are using. I read the article you link in your text above and it also specifies that the LOWER arm be bent at a 45-degree angle, not the whole arm…As opposed to holding the arm straight and slack. Perhaps also this would be better explained with sample pictures.

  8. Jem

    I have low blood pressure which some will say is fantastic. My pressure was perfect always 120/80 then it started to drop. My bp readings now go as low as 100/55. I get very sick with nausea, dizziness etc I drink salt water (salt and drinking water combined) almost everyday to keep me feeling good.Any advice on how to get my bp back to being perfect?


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