Study: Wait to take blood pressure

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 15, 2006

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A patient's blood pressure is lower when taken after he or she has been waiting for a few minutes in a chair with their feet on the floor than if it is taken upon his or her immediate arrival to an exam room while sitting on an examination table with feet dangling, according to a study presented at the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Assn. meeting in Denver last month.

Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville took two blood pressure readings for 100 patients who presented to an ambulatory cardiology clinic. Those who had their blood pressure initially measured while they were sitting in a chair, which is in line with American Heart Assn. guidelines, had a five-point increase in their systolic when it was later taken while they were sitting on the exam table. Those who had their blood pressure measured initially while sitting on the exam table had a average of a 14-point decrease in the systolic when it was taken while they were in a chair. The difference in the diastolic was not statistically significant.

The authors suggest that greater efforts be made to ensure that a patient is in a relaxed comfortable position before blood pressure is taken. "All too often, this doesn't happen," said Melly Turner, RN, lead author and a staff nurse at the university.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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