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Individuals taking their blood pressure at home may need a tutorial. A study of 80 Canadians using digital blood pressure monitors found that 90% of them were not aware that they should rest for at least 2 minutes before taking a reading. The researchers also learned that only half knew to place the cuff just above the elbow, and 70% did not realize that how they sit could alter the reading.
Thomas Wilson, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, said that a patient's back should be supported, with the legs uncrossed and the arm resting at heart level. If taken incorrectly, the readings may be too high or too low, and the patient may receive the wrong dose of medication or none at all, he added. (The findings were presented October 25, 2004, at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Calgary, Alberta.)