For the past year, Mile Bluff’s clinics have taken part in a Health
Resources and Service Administration grant opportunity with the Rural
Wisconsin Health Cooperative. The focus of the project was to help improve
hypertension. The goal was to increase the percentage of patients ages
18 to 85 who have their blood pressure (BP) below 140/90.
As a part of the initiative, staff members learned new ways to ensure getting
accurate BP readings - including rechecking BP throughout an appointment
if initial results are high. Staff members were also trained in taking
BP reading according to new guidelines, as listed below.
Tips for an accurate BP reading:
- Do not talk - Talking adds 10-15 mm Hg.
- Put cuff on bare arm - Clothing adds 10-40 mm Hg.
- Support arm at heart level - Unsupported arm adds 10 mm Hg.
- Empty bladder before test - Full bladder adds 10-15 mm Hg.
- Support back and feet - Unsupported back and feet each adds 5-10 mm Hg.
- Do not cross legs - Crossed legs add 2-8 mm Hg.
Mile Bluff also purchased electronic BP machines to ensure consistent and
In addition to following new guidelines and investing in equipment, a workflow
was created for patients 18 and older. This is a tool that helps guide
staff as to when patients need to follow up to get their BP rechecked.
Following these new measures for the past year has provided great results
in BP management at Mile Bluff. Prior to the project, staff members were
retaking BPs 14 percent of the time. About a year later, that has increased
to 63 percent.
Even if efforts only prevented one patient from being inaccurately diagnosed
with hypertension due to inaccurate blood pressure readings, the efforts
would be worth it. Overall, the initiative has proven to be successful.
The next step will be to focus on educating patients on home BP monitoring.
This will help to ensure that patients are using approved monitors, performing
checks accurately, and recording results for their healthcare provider
If you have any questions about your blood pressure, please be sure to
ask your provider.
For more information about blood pressure management, visit The American
Heart Association at