What Do The Numbers Mean
For people under the age of 60, it is generally accepted that blood pressure below 140/90 are normal, up to 160/95 are borderline, and above 160/95 are considered high blood pressure. In general, if your blood pressure readings are higher than 160/100, a serious condition may exist. See your personal physician immediately. It is important to remember that home blood pressure measurements may be significantly lower than those made in the doctor’s office. If you are taking your blood pressure to monitor the effects of a treatment program, make sure that you keep careful records of your home readings. DO NOT change your medication because of any readings you take. Only your doctor can correctly interpret your blood pressure measurement.
Before Checking Your Blood Pressure
- Find a quiet place to check your blood pressure. You will need to listen for your heartbeat.
- Make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed with a recently emptied bladder .
- Roll up the sleeve on your arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing.
- Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes. Your arm should rest comfortably at heart level. Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed. Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.
About Heart And Vascular Institute
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Why do I need to monitor my blood pressure at home?
- How often do I need to measure my blood pressure?
- What type of monitor should I use?
- What do my blood pressure readings mean?
- What is considered a normal blood pressure for me?
- What should I do if my readings are abnormal?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help manage my blood pressure?
- Do I need to take medicine to manage my blood pressure?
- What other things can affect a blood pressure reading?
Can Taking Blood Pressure Too Much Hurt You
As long as you use your blood pressure monitor as designed, taking your blood pressure too often should not hurt you. A home monitor releases the pressure in the cuff slower than a standard measurement at your doctors office. This can feel uncomfortable and possibly leave a mark on your skin. This is more likely to happen if you take your pressure too often or if your cuff size is too small.
Its possible, in people who are at increased risk for capillary fragility, to experience a condition called tourniquet-induced petechiae. After prolonged compression of a blood pressure cuff, a red rash or red dots, can appear on the skin . Although rare, this condition has occurred to patients in a hospital after repeated blood pressure readings during monitoring or surgery.
The following are ways to prevent petechiae:
- Dont take your blood pressure unnecessarily.
- Use the right size cuff.
- Position the cuff properly on your arm.
- Follow the instructions in your monitor manual.
In addition, taking your pressure too often can set back your blood pressure goals. This can hurt your progress, which leads me to the topic further down, When Not To Take Blood Pressure.
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At Your Healthcare Provider’s Office
Some people have their blood pressure checked by a healthcare provider on a regular basis. There’s a good chance that these appointments are scheduled at different times of the day.
There’s also a good reason for that. A healthcare provider will do this on purpose to get a range of readings. These multiple readings are then averaged together into one overall result. It is used to give a diagnosis, according to standard guidelines on blood pressure.
Testing Your Blood Pressure At Home
Your GP may suggest 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring if they think you may have high blood pressure .
ABPM tests your blood pressure regularly over 24 hours, by using a cuff attached to a portable device that’s worn on your waist.
You can continue with your daily activities during this time.
If you want to regularly check your blood pressure at home, you can buy a machine.
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Managing High Blood Pressure
To prevent high blood pressure, or to manage it once you’ve been diagnosed, follow these tips.
- Visit your GP regularly for a check-up, especially when you know you have high blood pressure.
- Quit smoking.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Exercise regularly and consider stress-reducing techniques like yoga and meditation.
- Eat less red meat, and avoid salty and fatty foods.
- Eat more cereals, fish, fruit and vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
Medication for high blood pressure
If lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure enough, your doctor may prescribe medication. Make sure you take it, and don’t adjust the dosage yourself based on your own blood pressure measurements. This is known as “self diagnosis”, and fiddling with your medication yourself can have serious consequences.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
Unfortunately, there are no specific and overt symptoms of high blood pressure.
It is for this very reason that hypertension is often called the silent killer, Dr. Singh says.
Though hypertension in and of itself is asymptomatic, if left untreated, it can lead to organ damage. From there, different diseases can develop with harmful symptoms.
Common examples include chest pain associated with heart attacks or weakness and dizziness that occur during strokes, Dr. Singh says.
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What If I Dont Have Equipment
You dont need a blood pressure cuff to take your resting heart rate, which is another measurement that helps indicate heart health. Digital monitors usually display both blood pressure and heart rate, but you can determine the latter on your own by checking your pulse by hand. Your pulse is how many times your heart pumps per minute.
First, locate the artery below the thumb on the inside of your wrist and place two fingers there. Count how many times you feel your heartbeat over a 15-second period, and then multiply your count by four to get your resting heart rate.
When youre checking pulse by hand, youre looking for more than just a number. Youre also checking for a regular rhythm, which indicates a strong pulse.
How Do I Measure My Blood Pressure
Before you check your blood pressure, you should:
- Wait 30 minutes after eating or using caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco products.
- Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder.
- Rest for 3 to 5 minutes and do not talk.
- Sit in a comfortable position, with your legs and ankles uncrossed and your back supported.
- Elevate your left arm to the level of your heart. Place it on a table or desk and sit still.
- Wrap the cuff around the upper part of your bare arm. The cuff should be smooth and snug. There should be enough room for you to slip one fingertip under the cuff.
- Check the placement of the cuff. The bottom edge of it should be 1 inch above the crease of your elbow.
Below are the steps to take to use an aneroid monitor.
Below are the steps to take to use a digital monitor.
- Turn the power on to start the unit.
- On the automatic models, the cuff will inflate by itself with a push of a button. On the manual models, you have to inflate the cuff. You do this by squeezing the rubber bulb at a rapid rate.
- After the cuff inflates, the automatic device will slowly let air out.
- Look at the display screen to get your blood pressure reading. It will show your systolic and diastolic pressures. Write down the measurement in your record. The systolic pressure goes in front of the diastolic pressure. For example, 120/80.
- Press the exhaust button to release all of the air from the cuff.
- If you need to repeat the measurement, wait 2 to 3 minutes before starting.
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Are You Taking Your Pressure Too Often Due To Fluctuations
Your pressure can change throughout the day. Sometimes from minute to minute or hour to hour. Slight variations are normal but shouldnt be a concern . Because of these fluctuations, you may take your blood pressure too often. The extra measurements arent necessary.
A common cause of getting different 2 different readings, even minutes apart can be because you didnt prepare properly for the first reading. Something like being as unrelaxed as you should have been for the first reading is very common. By the time you take the 2nd measurement, your body has had a few more minutes to calm down and relax resultingly in a lower number.
How Long You Should Wait Between Blood Pressure Readings
The American College of Cardiology and the new blood pressure guidelines recommend taking at least 2 to 3 readings, 1 minute apart . If you measure your blood pressure 2 times a day, this will equal taking your pressure 4-6 times a day in total. This wouldnt be considered taking your blood pressure too often.
During the 1 minute break between readings, do not do anything that can alter your blood pressure. The things you should avoid before taking your blood pressure, should also be avoided between the 2 or 3 measurements. These activities may include the following:
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Check Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force or pressure exerted in the arteries by the blood as it is pumped around the body by the heart. It is recorded as two measurements:
- Systolic pressure: pressure in the arteries during the period of the heart’s contraction
- Diastolic pressure: pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxed, between heartbeats
A doctor or nurse can listen to your blood pressure by placing a stethoscope on your artery and pumping up a cuff placed around your arm. The blood pressure is read on a special meter called a sphygmomanometer.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury , which refers to how high the pressure in the arteries can raise a column of mercury in the sphygmomanometer.
Measuring Your Blood Pressure
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How Blood Pressure Is Tested
Blood pressure machines vary, but they’re all a type of measuring device, which often have an arm cuff attached to it.
The cuff is usually wrapped around your upper arm and filled with air until it feels tight. This can feel uncomfortable but it only lasts a few seconds.
It’s important to relax and not talk during this time, because this is when your blood pressure is measured.
If a healthcare professional is doing this for you, they may also use a stethoscope to record your blood pressure.
An automatic device usually picks up the measurements from sensors in the arm cuff, which are sent to a digital display.
You should get the results straight away.
The Company Behind Instant Blood Pressure
AuraLifes mission has been to help people better access health insight. The company has envisioned a future where mobile technology plays a central role in helping people pursue their health and wellness goals. Instant Blood Pressure is a novel system that has leveraged recent advances across industry and academia in mobile sensor technology, machine learning techniques, and physiological understanding. AuraLife has been proud to have built a technology which has aimed to help people live happier and healthier lives.
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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.
What Not To Do When Taking Your Own Blood Pressure
Dont round your measurements up or down. If you dont keep accurate readings it could affect the treatment you are prescribed.
Dont be alarmed by an unexpected high reading, a one-off high reading may be nothing to worry about. If you measure your blood pressure again and it remains high over a period of time, contact your GP.
Dont check your blood pressure too often, this might make you stressed about little changes to your readings. Worrying about blood pressure could make it higher.
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Tips To Measure Your Blood Pressure Correctly
To determine whether you have hypertension, a medical professional will take a blood pressure reading. How you prepare for the test, the position of your arm, and other factors can change a blood pressure reading by 10% or more. That could be enough to hide high blood pressure, start you on a drug you don’t really need, or lead your doctor to incorrectly adjust your medications.
National and international guidelines offer specific instructions for measuring blood pressure. If a doctor, nurse, or medical assistant isn’t doing it right, don’t hesitate to ask him or her to get with the guidelines.
Here’s what you can do to ensure a correct reading:
Don’t drink a caffeinated beverage or smoke during the 30 minutes before the test.
Sit quietly for five minutes before the test begins.
During the measurement, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and your arm supported so your elbow is at about heart level.
The inflatable part of the cuff should completely cover at least 80% of your upper arm, and the cuff should be placed on bare skin, not over a shirt.
Don’t talk during the measurement.
Have your blood pressure measured twice, with a brief break in between. If the readings are different by 5 points or more, have it done a third time.
For more on getting your blood pressure under control, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Should You Be Checking Your Own Blood Pressure
Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home
- Tips for Checking Your Own Blood Pressure. There are certain factors that can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise.
- Before Checking Your Blood Pressure. Find a quiet place to check your blood pressure. You will need to listen for your
- Step-by-Step Blood Pressure Check. If you purchase a manual or digital blood pressure monitor
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The White Coat Effect
So what happens when readings taken at home or with a 24-hour monitor dont agree with those taken by your doctor in the clinic? People with high clinic readings but normal home or 24-hour blood pressure readings are thought to have white coat hypertension. These people are sometimes given more intensive blood pressure lowering drugs than may be necessary. But recognising which patients will react to a white coat is difficult if only one-off measurements from a GP consultation are available. Also, its probably not reasonable to expect everyone to measure their own blood pressure and report to a doctor when the readings are repeatedly high.
New research suggests that it may be possible to predict whether a person is going to have higher or lower blood pressure at home based on information routinely available in a GP surgery setting. This research suggests that being a man, being overweight or smoking may predict those people who are more likely to have higher blood pressure readings at home. There are also ongoing studies exploring whether these factors could be used by doctors to decide which people are most likely to benefit from home or 24-hour monitoring to guide treatment decisions.
Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury and is given as 2 numbers:
- systolic pressure the pressure when your heart pushes blood out
- diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats
The highest number is always the systolic pressure and it’s always given first. For example, a blood pressure given as “120 over 80” or 120/80mmHg means a systolic pressure of 120mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80mmHg.
As a general guide:
- normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
- high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
- low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
If your reading is between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg, you may be at risk of developing high blood pressure. There are things you can do to help prevent high blood pressure.
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