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446896 tn?1237806342

Conquering fear of blood pressure machines?

I know I am not the only one who absolutely freaks out when having my blood pressure taken.  Every time I go to the Dr's office, they always comment on how high my pulse and blood pressure are (last week when I went it was 127/92 and pulse of 133!)  Ha...and those numbers arent even unusual for me!  I know the pulse is high, but I don't worry about it as much just because I take it frequently at home now, and know that it is usually in the 80's when I'm at home.  But the blood pressure...ugh!  I am just convinced that I am going to have a really high reading sometime and that I'm going to just kill over.  And the docs and nurses make it worse by always saying "well, your numbers are a little too high for your age, even though you are nervous" (I just turned 30).  

So...has anyone successfully conquered their fear of having their blood pressure taken?  How did you do it?  I really want to get over this. I mean, I feel like i try to do everything right...I eat fairly well, I'm definitely not overweight, dont smoke or drink, somewhat active...the only thing I have trouble with is my anxiety.  Ugh...this is frustrating!
164 Responses
468452 tn?1225968488

Never had this problem but I know that some people do have it.

The only thing that I can suggest it to get your own blood presure machine for home and then start taking it occasionally. If you take it regularly then I would imagine that you will get used to it and then it won;t become a big deal when the nurses take it. You will also see then that BP goes up and down all of the time and it is perfectly normal.

The only thing that I would say though is do not do this if you know for a fact that you will become obsessed with taking your BP all of the time and then stressing over the reading. You know that your readings are high but I would imagine that this is through stress. You obviously work yourself up for sometime before the actual event.

The only way I have gotten over any of my fears are to face them head on and just keep on with it no matter how awful it is.

Good Luck
I just  got my own BP cuff. My heart starts to race as soon as I put it on. Dr. is keeping an eye on BP so I am supposed to report readings back. If only my nerves didn't get the best of me... even at home.
i have a severe phobia of anything medical. even stethoscopes make me nervous. my doctor couldnt get a clear reading of my blood pressure because to me when it squeezes your arm it is incredibly painful and makes me cry and have a panic attack. is my doctor being a jerk? because everyone i know says its not supposed to hurt.
Avatar universal
I have panic disorder, along with a lot of other stuff, and I have a couple behavioral tips that I have been taught when I get in a situation I don't like.

First, remember that you can always tear that cuff off when they crank it up so tight!  It's velcro, and easy to undo.  It sometimes helps panic to know you have an "escape" plan, even though you may never do it.

Second, deep breathing is very helpful in the midst of panicky feelings.  And a reality check, by asking yourself, "Is this the worst thing that can happen to me today?" and also by looking around the room and seeing the nurse and recognizing everything in there and reminding yourself that you're just visiting the doctor as usual.
599170 tn?1300977493
read my post armyboy/man in transition into adulthood community, i hava 17 1/2 year old who has the same problem only with pulse  He almost couldnt get into the army because of it, a doctor anwser my post you may find it interesting. Also learning some relaxation techinques would be helpful.
When my son was hooked up to the pulse ox (they didnt want to do his manually) his pulse ( heart rate ) went up 15 beats or so every time a pretty nurse walked into the room LOL, cognitive therapy is likely going to be called for, but read my post just for kicks,
537497 tn?1292556656
i thought i was the only one with this fear.. it's a relieve to know i'm not alone.. the one thing that i try to do is when i'm at the drug store and see the machine I freak out, but i sit down and take my blood pressure like 15 times.. it's always high at first but then it goes down.. It maked me feel better because i'm the only one that can see it...
trust me i know what it feels like.. when i was pregnant it was a nightmare...
just know you are not alone...
any solutions?  I heard any fear needs to be conquer head on with courage and diligence, either we rule fears or they rule us.
446896 tn?1237806342
Thanks so much to all of you who are responding...it really does help me ☺
Don't feel bad, for me I  freak out since early childhood, when other's take my blood pressure or when I'm around other's that can see, very self conscious, and thinking the worst, of what other's might think
447939 tn?1235065543
hi firstly your reading of 127/92 isnt massivly high and its bound to go up if your nervous, the only thing with getting a home blood pressure machine is you can get obsessed but maybe if you got one and limited yourself to using it maybe once every 2 weeks would be a good idea also the readings can be in accurate so if you got a high reading at home it could make u freak out!!! i used to hate having my BP done i was terrified of it being high so i bought my own machine and it rules my life
446896 tn?1237806342
Thanks for your response and I do realize that it may be a problem if I get my own machine.  Ihave been checking my HR at home with my workout monitor and I seem to be doing that all the time now...even though I know the numbers are OK :(  
Avatar universal
All I have to say is that the whole thing stinks.  I have suffered from anxiety since childhood and it has progressively gotten worse.  I never had a problem with high blood pressure until I used one of the grocery store BP machines, about 2 years ago, and the reading was a little high (142/89).  I can reason that it was because I had been running around with a toddler and was in a rush, but that was the beginning of the end.  I started obsessing, I went to my Dr. that same day and was having a panick attack.  When they took my BP it was 152/90 and once I relaxed it dropped to 120/80.  They sent me to a cardioligist because by HR was so high and the EKG was abnormal.  I went to the cardiologist the next day, my BP was 110/70 and the stress test was normal.  

Unfortunately, ever since I have not been able to relax about having my BP taken at the Dr.'s office.  It is always high, a couple of months ago it was 140/90.  I brought a BP machine and the readings are usually high because I'm anxious about the process and then they drop to normal (average 115/75).  Recently, my anxiety has been worse and, in turn, my readings are higher.   Now, I 'm anxious about the HOME BP machine and obssessed about my BP.  

I am trying Transcendal Meditation (TM), there's a lot of research that supports its effectiveness on anxiety and high blood pressure.  I think that I'm going to need to take an SSRI (like Zoloft) as well.

I welcome any other suggestions....
I feel relieved that I'm not the only one.
626040 tn?1224298856
I thought that I was the only one with this----I know that my pressure goes up because of anxiety- can't get an accurate reading because of this. I feel like running away even when I see someone else taking their pressure at the drug store... I think part of it is fear over  the cuff tightening ---feeling trapped or not in control... I bought a monitor for home at the suggestion of the clinic nurse- but just hate having it at my house- too scared to go near the thing. Readings are always high...how can we get over this ???

How can the doctors treat us for high blood pressure( if we even have it?) if we can't get an accurate reading????

I think one of the best things to do is get really healthy- eat low sodium foods etc.
This seems to give a sense of power over this area.
370181 tn?1428180348
Hi Autumn! I see you are still having issues with your BP. I know we discussed ways for you to get over this fear, but either they didn't work, or you didn't try them.
Working on a surgical unit in a hospital, I assume most of you can imagine the number of BPs and HRs I take in the course of my shift. Literally hundreds! And I take them on many people who have the same fear as you. In a way, it's not really a fair analogy because folks who are in the hospital are generally in pain, on heavy duty drugs and are afraid. Their blood pressures reflect all of those. Which is why we repeat it through out the day. I had one patient, a young woman in her late 30's who was petrified of having her BP taken because it was always high. DUH! Fear=HBP. One day, as an experiment, I walked in to take her BP and could see her tense up immediatley. This gal, by the way, was NOT on any medication, had NOT had surgery, was NOT in pain and was going home in a few hours after having gotten some VERY good news about her "condition." I took her BP and it WAS high. But I knew she was stressed about the procedure. When she asked me what it was, I told her the lead had come lose from the machine and it hadn't been able to read her BP. So while I pretended to fuss with the machine, I asked if her daughter was going to be a princess, AGAIN, for Halloween, which got us to laughing and talking about all the silly things WE had dressed up as kids, and what we'd go out as now all these years later and That really got us to howling and it was then that I pushed the button, but she was still laughing so hard she didn't realize I was taking her BP until, as they say, it was "too late!" Her BP was the lowest she had ever seen it. When I started to take the cuff off, she said "NO! Do it again!" I told her it was unlikely the numbers would be that low again as she was now going to focus on her fear, but she insisted, so I did. Her BP was a smidge LOWER than last time.
I'm not trying to say I'm some sort of magician, I'm not. SHE was the one who had the epiphany that day! It became clear to her what her fear was doing. Before she left the hospital that day, she had me take he BP 6 more times! The numbers varied by only a few points, which is normal. Was she "cured?" Who knows. I haven't seen her since but I have a feeling she learned that day what fear can do.
Kind of a long story to emphasize that by focusing on fear, you will always present with higher numbers. And one other thing, by sitting at one of those drug store BP machines and taking your BP 15 times in rapid succession is NOT a good thing to do! That cuff squeezes pretty tight and after 2 or 3 times, your blood vessels are saying "well, this doesn't feel so real good, so we obviously need to pump HARDER when we get squished!" Guess what happens by the time you've done that to them 10 times? And you should always relax for at least 10 minutes before taking your BP at one of those places since more than likely you've been running around like a chicken with no head doing errands and you plop down in the chair, relieved to be off your feet, out of breath, you shove your arm in the cuff and push the button.......and guess what? Next time, pick up one of the magazines they usually have laying about, stick your arm in the cuff but do not push the button! Spend at least a good 5-10 minutes reading a "fun" article, do NOT read the "10 Warning Signs of Impending Death From High Blood Pressure!" Read about some horribly expensive spa that none of us will EVER be able to afford and just let your mind drift.............forget the hustle and bustle going on around you, forget all the things you still have left to get done.....take a good deep breath and push the on button but continue to read, do anything but stare at the numbers! When the machine is done, it will beep, you won't miss what your reading was. But I promise you, you'll be surprised.
I know I've gone over how to deal with a home monitor and not get yourself totally obsessed with that, so I won't repeat myself. If you want to talk about that again, please PM me and I'll be happy to walk you through it as many times as you need!
You can do this. It's mind over matter.
Keep me updated!

Avatar universal
You guys all have to remember high BP doesn't mean you're going to have a heart-attack necassarily.  High LDL and high triglycerides probably have more to do with it.  And all people are built different, my whole family on both sides have pretty high BP and my great grandpa just turned 91 (and he's a decently sized guy), and is still going strong and still gets in an hour of walking a day.  My mom had a check-up and her BP was 150/90, but she isn't overweight (lots of muscle), but since her cholestrol was so good the doc (she in fact has low LDL and High HDL) he didn't see the need to put her on medication.

I'd worry more about if you have kidney disfunction if you have High BP IMO, maybe get your creatine checked.
Avatar universal
hi.  I loved your response on taking BP and the associated anxiety.  I can relate to everything you said.  I would like to add one thing and see what you think of this.  I have thought about the fear of taking my BP or having it taken alot.  I really came to the conclusion that mine is a form of performance anxiety.  My fear is the comments and reactions of the taker.  I have one nurse who I feel totally relaxed with and she gets me 120/70.  Any suggestions on how to handle my fear of reaction?  I usually go in and tell them it's going to be high so knock yourself out.  But I feel intimidated and fearful that their going to judge me and make these condescending comments, etc.  Strange, but I feel blessed I have identified my problem, just looking for any suggestions on how to deal with the medical people I come in contact with to take charge and beat them to the punch if you will.


my email is ***@**** if you wish, but any comment on here is great.
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370181 tn?1428180348
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