Make sure your blood pressure readings are accurate

Blood pressure is an important indicator of your health. But to be of any value, it has to be accurate. Your numbers should be the average of two measurements taken at least a minute apart.

You should not be talking during the test and the blood pressure cuff should be about the level of your heart.

"You should be in the doctor's office sitting not lying, sitting in a chair not on the table, because you want your back supported," says Dr. John Swartzberg at the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

Swartzberg says blood pressure can vary based on the time of day, what you've had to eat or drink and what you did just before the test. That's why you should not smoke, exercise or consume caffeine during the 30 minutes before having your blood pressure taken.

Some people get so nervous being in the doctor's office, their blood pressure goes up.

"You can check it yourself at home in a much more relaxed environment. And you can keep those records and bring them in a show your doctor."

Dr. Swartzberg says a diagnosis of high blood pressure should never be based on readings taken during a single office visit.

For more information

Blood Pressure: Getting It Right