Positioning The Blood Pressure Cuff
How Often Should You Measure Blood Pressure
If you have normal blood pressure, and your doctor thinks you’re at a low risk for developing hypertension, you’ll likely only get your blood pressure measured once a year, at a routine check-up.
However, if you’re at risk or have hypertension, your doctor may recommend that you check blood pressure at home.
If you have a clinician-approved at-home blood pressure measuring kit, you should measure your blood pressure twice in the morning and twice in the evening, waiting a minute between readings, says Cohen.
Additionally, she says it’s important to calmly wait five minutes before measuring your blood pressure, as it can affect the accuracy of your reading.;
“If you’re checking your blood pressure when you’re exercising, moving around, or without taking that five minute break, then it’s just not a useful blood pressure,” Cohen says.;
Cohen recommends using a blood pressure measuring device from an accredited source, such as Validate BP. Devices are independently reviewed by experts associated with the American Heart Association to see which ones provide the best, clinically accurate results.;
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Blood pressure tests can also be carried out at home using your own digital blood pressure monitor.
This can give a better reflection of your blood pressure, as being tested in somewhere like a GP surgery can make you feel anxious and can affect the result. It can also allow you to monitor your condition more easily in the long term.
You can buy a variety of low-cost monitors so you can test your blood pressure at home or while you’re out and about.
It’s important to make sure you use equipment that has been properly tested. The British Hypertension Society has information about validated blood pressure monitors you can buy.
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Measurement Of Force Of Arterial Blood Flow
Blood pressure is the term used to describe the force of blood as it is pumped through the arteries with each heartbeat. A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers, with the pressure measured in millimeters of mercury . A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg, or 120 over 80. The systolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart beats . The diastolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart is resting .
Recent Findings Raise Concerns About Lowering Diastolic Blood Pressure The Second Number In Your Blood Pressure Reading Too Far
More of us than ever before are taking medications to lower our blood pressure. Longstanding guidelines suggest that most people should aim for a systolic blood pressure no higher than 140 millimeters of mercury . But in 2015, the results of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial suggested that reaching a target of 120 mm Hg could further reduce the risks associated with high blood pressure, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and death.
Yet reaching that lower target often requires three blood pressure medications, which can increase the likelihood of side effects. Two observational studies and one clinical trial have raised concerns about lowering blood pressure particularly diastolic pressure too far. Diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes.;”When your systolic blood pressure gets too low, it can manifest as lightheadedness, fainting, and weakness. But low diastolic pressure by itself doesn’t have any symptoms,” says Dr. Paul Conlin, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of medicine at the VA Boston Healthcare System.
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Tips For Measuring Your Blood Pressure
- Sit for at least 5 minutes before your blood pressure is measured.
- Do not smoke or drink caffeine 30 minutes before you measure your blood pressure.
- If you are nervous when you go to the doctor, you could have a false high blood pressure reading. This is called white coat syndrome. If this happens, your doctor may ask you to: Use a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure throughout the day. You can bring a record of your readings to your appointments.
Some people are asked to wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. The monitor is usually set to take blood pressure every 15 to 30 minutes as you go about your normal activities.
How Can I Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctors office or hospitalusually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.
Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they dont use SMBP.3
Use these additional tips for SMBP:4
- Use a blood pressure log pdf icon;to record your blood pressure measurements.
- Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
- Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.
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What Is Diastolic Blood Pressure
The heart rests between beats so it can refill with blood. Doctors call this pause between beats “diastole.” Your diastolic blood pressure is the measurement during this pause before the next heartbeat.
A normal diastolic blood pressure during quiet rest is 80 mmHg or a little below. If you have high blood pressure, the diastolic number is often higher even during quiet rest.
Low diastolic pressure may be seen with dehydration or with severe bleeding. It also may happen if the arteries relax and widen.
When To See The Doctor
The doctor should check your monitor at least once a year. This ensures that the measurements are accurate.
Only a doctor can diagnose you with high blood pressure. Contact your doctor if you have high readings for several days. Be sure to take your blood pressure log with you to the visit.
Hypotension is low blood pressure. This occurs when your systolic pressure is consistently below 90 or is 25 points below your normal reading. Contact your doctor if you have low readings. Hypotension can be a sign of shock, which is life threatening. Call your doctor right away if you are dizzy or lightheaded.
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Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
In some cases, your doctor may recommend 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring .
This is where your blood pressure is tested automatically around every 30 minutes over a 24-hour period using a cuff attached to a portable device worn on your waist.
ABPM can help to give a clear picture of how your blood pressure changes over the course of a day.
You should continue with your normal daily activities during the test, although you must avoid getting the equipment wet.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
A doctor or nurse will measure your blood pressure with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff. It’s simple and painless.
The person taking your blood pressure wraps the cuff around your upper arm. Some cuffs go around the forearm or wrist, but often they aren’t as accurate.
Your doctor or nurse will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood moving through your artery.
Theyâll inflate the cuff to a pressure higher than your systolic blood pressure, and it will tighten around your arm. Then theyâll release it. As the cuff deflates, the first sound they hear through the stethoscope is the systolic blood pressure. It sounds like a whooshing noise. The point where this noise goes away marks the diastolic blood pressure.
In a blood pressure reading, the systolic number always comes first, and then the diastolic number. For example, your numbers may be “120 over 80” or written as 120/80.
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Blood Pressure Readings Explained
What do the numbers mean?
Everyone would like to have healthy blood pressure. But what exactly does that mean?
When your doctor takes your blood pressure, its expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom , like a fraction. For example, 120/80 mm Hg.
The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. This is called systolic pressure.
The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. This is called diastolic pressure.
Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart health.
Numbers greater than the ideal range indicate that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.
What Numbers Mean High Blood Pressure What Numbers Mean Normal Blood Pressure
Normal blood pressure is at or under 120 over 80.
In November 2017, blood pressure guidelines were modified. Any blood pressure measurement at or above 130 over 80 is now considered high. And thats what we in the medical community call hypertension. These numbers are down from the old recommendation of 140 over 90.
In the past, many people in the United States were considered prehypertension. The new recommendations get rid of that category, and now almost half of U.S. adults fall into the category of hypertension. That could seem shocking. But patients who are in this category should already be discussing their blood pressure numbers with their primary care doctor. If they arent, now is a good time to connect with their medical provider and come up with a plan for treatment.
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What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Your blood pressure consists of two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Someone with a systolic pressure of 117 and a diastolic pressure of 78 has a blood pressure of 117/78, or “117 over 78.”
Blood pressure that is too high increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Your blood pressure should be less than 140/90 . If you have diabetes, it should be less than 130/80 .;If you are 80 years and older, it should be less than 150/90 .
If the first number is:
OR the second number is:
Your blood pressure has:
90 or more
In general, the lower your blood pressure, the better. A blood pressure reading of less than 90/60 is normal as long as you feel okay.
The Blood Pressure Cuff
When it comes to the cuff, you are Goldilocks and it has to fit just right. If its too loose, you could get falsely low blood pressure readings; if its too tight, your reading might be inaccurately higher. If the cuff feels too tight before its blown up, you know its too tight. If its falling off, you know its too big, says Dr. Goldberg.
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Blood Pressure Reading Chart
Below is a blood pressure reading chart for you.
*Remember that the larger figure in your reading represents the systolic value; the smaller figure represents your diastolic value. Systolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is beating. Diastolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is resting.
When Should You Get Help For An Abnormal Blood Pressure Reading
One high or low blood pressure reading by itself may not mean you need to call for help. If you take your blood pressure and it is out of the normal range, wait a few minutes and take it again. If it’s still high or low, use the following guidance.
911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out .
or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your blood pressure is much higher than normal .
- You think high blood pressure is causing symptoms such as:
- Severe headache.
- Your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher on two or more occasions.
- Your blood pressure is usually normal and well controlled, but it goes above the normal range on more than one occasion.
- Your blood pressure is lower than usual and you are dizzy or light-headed.
- You think you may be having side effects from your blood pressure medicine.
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What Equipment Do I Need To Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
To measure your blood pressure at home, you can use either an aneroid monitor or digital monitor. Choose the type of monitor that best meets your needs. Look at the following features when you select a monitor.
- Size:;The right cuff size is very important. The cuff size you need is based on the size of your arm. You can ask the doctor, nurse, orpharmacist;to help you. Blood pressure readings can be wrong if your cuff is the wrong size.
- Price:;Cost may be a key factor. Home blood pressure units vary in price. You may want to shop around to find the best deal. Keep in mind that pricey units may not be the best or most accurate.
- Display:;The numbers on the monitor should be easy for you to read.
- Sound:;You must be able to hear your heartbeat through the stethoscope.
Tests show that finger and wrist devices do not always provide correct measurements. These devices are sensitive to placement and body temperature. They also are expensive and can cost more than $100.
The aneroid monitor manually checks your blood pressure. It has a gauge that you read by looking at a pointer on the dial. The cuff goes around your upper arm and you squeeze a rubber bulb to inflate it by hand.
Inflation of the cuff is either automatic or manual, depending on the model. Deflation is automatic. Digital monitors are good for hearing-impaired patients, since there is no need to listen to your heartbeat through the stethoscope.
Readings Can Detect Abnormal Blood Pressure In The Absence Of Symptoms
Blood pressure readings can be taken manually or with an automatic monitoring device. A cuff attached to a gauge is placed above the elbow of one arm and inflated with a hand pump . The inflated cuff stops the flow of blood through the artery in the arm so that a pulse can be clearly heard. The cuff is then slowly deflated, and a stethoscope is used to listen to the blood flowing through the artery. When the thumping of blood is heard, the systolic pressure is noted on the gauge. When the thumping stops, the diastolic pressure is noted.
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Check Your Blood Pressure At Home
The new guidelines note that blood pressure should be measured on a regular basis and encourage people to use home blood pressure monitors. Monitors can range from $40 to $100 on average, but your insurance may cover part or all of the cost. Measure your blood pressure a few times a week and see your doctor if you notice any significant changes. Here are some tips on how to choose and use a monitor.
- Select a monitor that goes around your upper arm. Wrist and finger monitors are not as precise.
- Select an automated monitor, which has a cuff that inflates itself.
- Look for a digital readout that is large and bright enough to see clearly.
- Consider a monitor that also plugs into your smartphone to transfer the readings to an app, which then creates a graph of your progress. Some devices can send readings wirelessly to your phone.
Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges
Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
|SYSTOLIC mm Hg||and/or||DIASTOLIC mm Hg|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 1||130 139|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 2||140 OR HIGHER|
|HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS||HIGHER THAN 180||and/or||HIGHER THAN 120|
Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually;low blood pressure readings.
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