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Blood pressure test results may not always be accurate

Blood pressure tests are common during a visit to a doctor. Iowa residents may be surprised to learn that their blood pressure test results are not always accurate, and these inaccuracies could present health challenges. Small things such as sitting on the bed at the doctor’s office with one foot dangling off the side, engaging in conversation with the nurse or medical assistant performing the test, or having the blood pressure cuff on top the patient’s sleeve could be enough to make a patient with high blood pressure appear that their blood pressure is normal, and vice versa.

Until recently, the American Heart Association defined high blood pressure as 140/90. However, updated guidelines have established 130/80 as the threshold for determining high blood pressure. That relatively small change means that upward of 50 percent of Americans could now be classified as having high blood pressure.

As common as blood pressure exams are, according to the American Medical Association, many professionals are performing them wrong. To get accurate results, the patient should have both of their feet on the ground or resting on a stool. Their back should be supported. The arm being tested should be at the patient’s heart level.

Failing to have a patient rest at least five minutes before the blood pressure test, placing the cuff on top of clothing, using a cuff that is too big or too small, and even engaging in conversation is enough to change blood pressure test readings. One or two small errors are all that are required for a patient to find themselves classified as having blood pressure issues when they do not.

If a patient receives an improper blood pressure diagnosis from their healthcare provider because of a failure to follow established testing techniques, and if as a result of misdiagnosis the patient is harmed, they may be in line for financial compensation. A personal injury lawyer will be able to help their client evaluate the circumstances of their case, work with investigators to collect necessary information, and represent their client through the medical malpractice case.

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