Systolic (the top number) blood pressure averaged 14 points higher when taken shortly after a patient arrived in the exam room and sat on an exam table than when he/she sat in a chair for five minutes.

Theory: Foot and back support induce a relaxed state, which helps allow for accurate blood pressure readings.

Self-defense: The next time you have your blood pressure taken, ask if you can sit in a chair with your back supported and feet flat on the floor for five minutes. Remain in this position (instead of sitting on an exam table) while the reading is taken.

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