If you’re not taking your blood pressure correctly, going through a checklist of items to do before and during the blood pressure test, you might be getting the wrong readings.

And getting the wrong readings could mean the difference between prescription medications and simple lifestyle changes…

Here’s the checklist that cardiovascular specialists are advising you to go through:

Here are the do’s and don’ts from a patient’s perspective, aimed at making it less likely that you’ll get a reading that is falsely high, or low:

  • Do: Sit in a chair, feet flat on the ground, legs uncrossed, with your back supported and without talking, for at least five minutes before you get your blood pressure measured.
  • Don’t: Exercise, consume caffeine or smoke within 30 minutes of your test.
  • Do: Empty your bladder before your blood pressure is taken.
  • Don’t: Sit or lie on the exam table. Whelton says that can result in a falsely low blood pressure reading.
  • Do: Roll up your sleeve so the blood pressure cuff rests on bare skin, not clothing.
  • Don’t: Let your arm dangle or rest in your lap during the reading. It should be supported on a surface such as a desk.

If your blood pressure appears high, your doctor’s office should take a reading in both arms. And next time you come in, the reading should be from the arm that showed the higher blood pressure.

There is no single number that determines your blood pressure — it can vary throughout the day and be influenced by something as simple as being approached by a well-meaning nurse carrying a blood pressure cuff. So the new checklist says the diagnosis of high blood pressure requires at least two readings on separate occasions.

New medical guidelines lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. That means now nearly half of U.S. adults have it, but doctors say only 2 percent of these newly added people need medication.  The rest are urged to try healthier lifestyles first.

It’s timet to talk to your doctor about HOW your blood pressure readings are being taken. It’s also time to talk to your doctor about L-Arginine.