7 Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Readings

Understanding what affects blood pressure readings is necessary to take accurate vital health assessments regularly.

Several factors affect blood pressure readings when performing vital checks.

It includes ingesting foods and drinks, exercising, body temperature changes, extensive movements, and other factors.

These factors can elevate blood pressure levels beyond the baseline and lead to inaccurate readings.

Here are several things that increase blood pressure levels before performing an assessment.

Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Readings:

  • Bathing or extreme body temperature changes
  • Hot or cold drinks, alcohol, caffeine, and sugars
  • Food (especially carbs/sugars)
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Extensive heart-elevated movements
  • Improper placement or use

It is best to avoid doing these things for at least 30 minutes before assessing the best results.

1. Bathing in Hot or Cold Water

Bathing in hot or cold water can have a dramatic effect on heart rate and blood pressure.

Cold water restricts the blood vessels and generates shivering, which elevates the heart rate and increases blood pressure.

Contrarily, hot water boosts the heart rate but may lower blood pressure due to blood vessel dilation.

2. Hot, Cold, or Mood-Altering Drinks

The are various drinks that can have a strong impact on heart rate and blood pressure.

It includes hot and cold drinks like coffee, hot chocolate, and ice water.

Caffeine, alcohol, and sugar beverages also affect blood pressure due to digestion, hormone changes, and other factors.

For instance, caffeine increases alertness, but it also releases cortisol and stress hormones.

The release of these hormones can prevent people from getting good sleep and alter their blood pressure and heart rate.

3. Food, Especially Carbohydrates

Food containing lots of sugar and carbohydrates can cause strong hormonal changes and hypertension.

Short-term food digestion and hypertension can significantly increase the heart rate and alter blood pressure.

Long-term diets of unhealthy proceed carbs can cause unhealthy weight gain, which leads to increased blood pressure.

As a result, it’s highly recommended to avoid taking blood pressure readings directly after consuming a large meal.

It’s also vital to maintain a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly to stay healthy.

4. Exercise

Intense exercise and vigorous movements increase heart rate in the short term due to physical exertion placed on the body.

However, a good exercise routine keeps blood pressure down in the long term due to improved heart and lung function.

It’s vital to take blood pressure readings after the body has recovered from an exercise to get the most accurate readings.

5. Smoking

Smoking increases blood pressure by tightening major arteries and causing irregular heart rhythms.

It also changes the body’s natural hormone release and decays the lungs and surrounding organs over time.

A weakened immune system, bad lungs, and tightened arteries force the heart, lungs, and veins to fight for more oxygen.

6. Heart Elevating Movements

Aside from exercise, any intense movements can temporarily increase heart rate.

For instance, moving your arm widely or running down the stairs/hallway before a BP reading can raise your heart rate.

As a result, it’s essential to set still for several minutes before taking a heart rate and blood pressure reading.

It ensures your body received adequate rest and that your heart rate is stable.

7. Improper BP Monitor Placement of Use

One common cause for an elevated/decreased blood pressure reading is using a BP monitor incorrectly.

Users can either utilize a blood pressure cuff that is too large or small or place it in the wrong area.

either way, improper placement or using an inappropriate BP cuff size can affect the accuracy of a blood pressure reading.

How to Perform Blood Pressure Readings

You can do several things to optimize the accuracy of your assessments when performing blood pressure readings.

Firstly, read the manual for proper operation and body position to ensure the correct use of the device.

Take blood pressure assessments at the same time daily, in the morning and at night.

Performing blood pressure measurements at the same time every day is beneficial.

It means you’re more likely to take measurements when your body is at the same activity level as during that time of day, so your readings are more consistent over time.

Wait at least 30 minutes after eating, drinking (especially caffeinated or sugary drinks), or participating in an active event to ensure your blood pressure has returned to the standard resting rate.

Depending on the amount of caffeine or alcohol you’ve had, it may be better to wait even longer for those drinks to make their way through your system.

These drinks can elevate your heart rate, causing inaccurate readings.

Frequent movements and other high-energy activities also affect your heart rate.

Consequently,  don’t do anything extensive 20 – 30 minutes before your assessment.

When taking your blood pressure, sit with your arm in the correct place for your blood pressure reading.

Perform three separate readings approximately a minute apart and average the three measurements to get your average blood pressure level.

It helps improves accuracy by reducing the opportunities for elevated/lowered reading assessments, which can occur when only taking a single reading.

Some devices automatically perform multiple measurements and calculations to reduce false readings depending on the blood pressure monitor.

Following these steps and purchasing a highly accurate blood pressure monitor will make obtaining consistent, precise measurements more straightforward.

BPM Cheatsheet

This cheat sheet provides a quick overview of the necessary steps to take before and while using a blood pressure monitor.

Following these steps will help you maximize the accuracy and consistency of your readings.

It includes doing morning/night checks, avoiding food/drinks, relaxing before assessments, normalizing body temperature, and performing multiple readings.

Each of the steps below is a shortened variation of the steps mentioned above.

Morning and Night Consistency

Take measurements in the morning and evening at the same time.

This helps prevent you from estimating blood pressure during more active times when activities and food can alter measurements.

Avoid Food and Drinks

Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, caffeine, and hot or cold beverages for at least 30 minutes before performing an assessment.

These beverages impact your hormones, body temperature, and mood, which can alter your heart rate and blood pressure.


Rest before assessing if you’ve recently been active in a sport or physically demanding activity.

Sitting still for several minutes is vital to avoid measuring your heart rate and blood pressure when they’re still elevated.

Normalize your Body Temperature

If you’re coming from a hot or cold environment, make sure your body temperature normalizes before taking a reading.

Hot and cold water can cause the blood vessels to dilate or contract.

In addition, hot/cold temperatures raise your heart rate, which can negatively impact the accuracy of your BP readings.

Take Multiple Readings

Sometimes the blood pressure monitor needs to recalibrate, or the body needs extra time to rest for an accurate reading.

As a result, it’s best to perform three separate blood pressure readings and average them to reduce inaccuracies.