02-06-2021 / Heart & Vascular

11 Factors that can exaggerate blood pressure readings

We do not realize that our blood pressure is constantly changing every minute in response to body activity, mood, etc. This article comprises factors that can cause significant variations in the blood pressure measurements temporarily

Factors that can exaggerate blood pressure readings
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed
Mazia Ahmed
MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar
Medically Cited
Fact Checked

Table of Content


Have you heard about the term 'Blood Pressure' before? I think your answer is probably, yes. So first of all, let's recall "What is Blood Pressure? What does normal Blood Pressure mean? How is it measured?" The Pressure of Blood circulating against the Blood Vessel walls is termed Blood Pressure. By normal blood pressure, we mean that blood pressure measurement is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. Blood Pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer. 

What does my blood pressure reading mean

What are the Factors Responsible for Inaccurate Blood Pressure Readings?

As of today, people belonging to different age groups, ranging from teenagers to adults and old age groups are facing a health problem of High Blood Pressure or Hypertension due to unhealthy lifestyle, which includes several factors such as lack of exercise, lack of balanced diet, consumption of junk food, etc. But in some cases, a person with normal blood pressure is also reported to have high blood pressure. Now definitely a question might have arisen in your mind. How is it possible that a person with normal blood pressure is reported to have high blood pressure? Yes, it is possible that a person has normal Blood Pressure, but the sphygmomanometer is indicating high Blood Pressure. It is due to different circumstances such as:

Factors affect Blood Pressure Reading

1. Cuff Size and Placement 

During blood pressure measurement, if the order of the cuff is improper or if the cuff is placed overlapping the cloth, then it can show a little bit higher blood pressure than the actual blood pressure, which can increase about 10 to 50 points. While the variation of cuff size (in case of smaller), the blood pressure measurement can vary approximately 10 to 40 mmHg (higher than the actual blood pressure of the patient).

2. Stress and Anxiety

If you want to check your blood pressure, then you must be free from any type of stress or anxiety. According to researchers, it is proven that stress and anxiety cannot be the reason for chronic Hypertension or High blood pressure, but they can increase your blood pressure reading for a short period. When you are in anxiety or a stressful situation, your body releases a hormone called cortisol (the stress hormone). The release of stress hormones causes your blood pressure to get a boost, and the walls of the blood vessels in your body get narrower. In worst cases, it can even cause death due to the bursting of blood vessels.

3. Diet

If we are talking about blood pressure reading, then how can we leave this topic?

If someone finds their Blood Pressure high or low, the first thing that comes to mind is their diet. They initiate a healthy and balanced meal routine to keep their blood pressure regular. Proper diet helps in maintaining the body from different types of illness, health problems, and diseases. So you should have a balanced diet in order to keep yourself safe from all types of health problems. Now let's know about some of the food items that we consume almost every day which can increase our blood pressure readings. These are:

  • Salt and other sources of sodium: Of all food items, salt is a significant contributor to high blood pressure and many other heart diseases. There are many other food items such as canned products, pickles, meats, sauces, etc., that also contain sodium in large amounts. 

  • Sugar: Research has shown that excessive Sugar can also increase your blood pressure. Its overconsumption can cause high blood pressure problems, overweight and obesity problems.

  • Vegetable Oil: Excessive consumption of overheated vegetable oils can also affect our Blood Pressure as it reduces nitric oxide levels.

 4. Use of Alcohol, Caffeine, and Tobacco

To get accurate Blood Pressure reading, you should not consume alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine before blood pressure measurement. Caffeine is among the world's most widely consumed drugs which act as a stimulant for our central nervous system. It makes your brain alert and less sleepy. It is consumed by almost everyone as a home remedy for headaches, drowsiness, and migraine. Coffees and teas are the primary sources of caffeine in our daily intakes. Drinking alcohol and using tobacco can cause numerous health consequences and high blood pressure, while caffeine intake can increase the blood pressure for approximately 1-3 hours. The reading difference is about 5 to 10 mmHg.

5. Fasting

If you want accurate blood pressure in your body, then fasting is not a good option; it will increase your blood pressure reading instead of maintaining your blood pressure. According to Cardiologists, fasting increases the risk of heart diseases. It causes an imbalance in our normal Blood Pressure and increases it. In India, thousands of people have to face numerous health problems due to their religious fasting. But it remains an undiscussed topic.   

6. A Full Bladder

Before measurement of blood pressure, you should empty your bladder. When your bladder is full, the urine exerts pressure on your kidney, and it increases the blood pressure as the kidney exerts pressure on the blood vessels. After the bladder is emptied, the blood pressure also goes down automatically along it. It does not remain down permanently, but for a while. Suppose you are having a full bladder while blood pressure is measured; it can add up about 10 to 15 mmHg to your normal blood pressure. So emptying your bladder before measuring your blood pressure is necessary to get your body's actual blood pressure reading.

7. Lack of rest

As we all know that adequate rest is required for a healthy immune system and healthy mind. A person with a lack of rest and proper sleep may have a higher blood pressure than a person with adequate sleep. If you are not having sufficient sleep (7 to 8 hours a day), then you will have several health problems like sleep disorder, anxiety, more vulnerability to heart diseases, mental illness, and many other health problems. So to measure and know your actual blood pressure, it is necessary to have proper rest before blood pressure measurement, as prescribed by health experts.

7 Tip to Get an Accurate Blood Pressure Reading

8. Talking too much

While measuring your blood pressure, you shouldn't talk to someone. According to researchers, it is proven that by talking while measuring blood pressure, your blood Pressure reading can raise 10 to 15 mmHg more than your normal blood pressure. So, you should remain still and silent while your blood pressure is taken.

9. Temperature Variation

As we know that an object contracts when kept at a low temperature and expands when kept at a relatively higher temperature. Similarly, in a lower temperature, our blood vessels contract, due to which our blood pressure gets more elevated than the normal Blood Pressure. It is because our blood requires a higher amount of pressure so that it can flow in the narrow blood vessels. Although it is temporary, if you want your actual Blood Pressure, then you should prefer to measure your blood pressure in an average temperature condition.

10. Position

According to doctors, blood pressure reading can vary according to your position also. As different parts of our body have different energy consumption rate, hence different position of our body results in different Blood Pressure reading. If you measure your blood pressure in two different positions, i.e., one while standing and the other while sitting, you will observe blood pressure variations. You will observe that your blood pressure reading while sitting is higher than the blood pressure reading while standing. For proper reading, you should be in the right position as directed by the medical staff or doctors.

11. Crossed Legs

This is one of the most uncommon facts about blood pressure measurement that by crossing our legs, our blood pressure increases. In some research, this fact has been proved that by crossing your legs while Blood pressure checks up, your blood pressure reading will get higher and higher proportionately with time, and by uncrossing, it will slowly get normal again. Crossing your legs during Blood Pressure measurement can increase your blood pressure by 8 to 10 mmHg.

Word of Wisdom

Now, I hope you got some ideas about how your blood pressure exaggerates even when you have normal blood pressure. You should have a healthy diet plan, the proper time for sleeping and rest, regular exercises, and workout to keep yourself fit. Here in this article, you got some ideas and answers to your questions. Proper and accurate blood pressure reading depends only on your actual blood pressure. Still, it also depends on how properly you measure your Blood Pressure keeping all the possible factors in mind. You should have regular blood pressure check ups to keep yourself aware of your health status. If you want to know your actual Blood Pressure reading, you should follow all the tips mentioned above, which affect your actual blood pressure and show a little higher blood pressure than the real blood pressure.


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