1 of 3 US adults (estimated at approximately 71 million people) has high blood pressure and almost half of these individuals (48.2%) do not have their blood pressure under control. (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011–2012.)

Common problems that account for inaccurate blood pressure measurement
When the patient has…BP can appear higher by…
Cuff over clothing10-40 mmHg
A full bladder10-15 mmHg
A conversation or is talking10-15 mmHg
An unsupported arm10 mmHg
An unsupported back5-10 mmHg
Unsupported feet5-10 mmHg
Crossed legs2-8 mmHg


Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse – order free patient education materials. Including a poster for your exam room, reminding staff and patients about proper technique for blood pressure measurement.


This information is provided by the Division of Prevention and Wellness within the Department of Public Health.