How Often Should You Measure Your Blood Pressure
When and how often you take your readings will depend on your blood pressure. Speak to your doctor or nurse about whats suitable for you.
It can be useful to monitor your blood pressure closely to begin with, then less often but at regular intervals.
When you first start using your home monitor
When you first start using a home monitor, measure your blood pressure in the morning and evening, every day for a week.
Take three readings in the morning, one to two minutes apart, and the same again in the evening, and record all the readings. Take an average of the readings, but discard the first one if its much higher than the others. To take an average simply add the two readings together and divide by two. Divide by three if you use all three readings.
Ignore the first days readings altogether, because they might not be accurate as youre not familiar with your monitor yet.
At the end of the week you will have a useful picture of what your blood pressure is normally like.
Your doctor might ask you to keep a record like this when they first think you might have high blood pressure and would like to know more before making a .
After the first week
Once you have a record of your blood pressure over a week, you can take readings less often once every one to two weeks perhaps. Your doctor or nurse can talk to you about this, theres no need to measure it too often.
Where Can I Get My Blood Pressure Checked
You can get your blood pressure measured
- By a health care team member at a doctors office.
- At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine.
- With a home blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself.
Take this form pdf icon with you on your first blood pressure visit to record important blood pressure-related information.
What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure .
We record this with the systolic pressure first and the diastolic pressure second . For example, if the systolic pressure is 120 mmHg and the diastolic pressure is 80 mmHg, we would describe the blood pressure as 120 over 80, written 120/80.
All patients must be assessed for fitness before they undergo surgery. As part of this assessment, it important to measure and record the patient’s blood pressure. There are two reasons for this:
It provides an initial recording . If the blood pressure falls suddenly below this baseline after surgery, we are alerted to the fact that the patient may be experiencing complications.
It allows us to confirm that the patient is fit enough to undergo surgery. A high blood pressure reading, or indeed a very low blood pressure reading, could suggest that the patient has other medical problems, e.g. an undiagnosed heart condition. He or she may need further medical tests and possibly medication to stabilise the blood pressure before undergoing surgery.
When measuring a patient’s blood pressure, the nurse should be aware of factors that can affect the reading and possibly give a false reading, which could lead to unnecessary medical investigations. These factors include:
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Why Does My Blood Pressure Vary Throughout The Day
You may have heard the term circadian rhythm. If so, you know this is not a beat to keep on the dance floor. It is a biological cycle your body follows. As defined by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, âCircadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.â As your body cycles through this rhythm each day, responding to both internal and external stimuli, your blood pressure is affected.
The study of these important rhythms, known as chronobiology, was founded by Franz Halberg. His work in this field has helped identify abnormal rhythms in day-night blood pressure readings.Keeping the Beat of Blood PressureFollowing this chronobiological rhythm, your blood pressure is normally higher during the daytime and lower at night, during sleeping hours. Hereâs the problem. People with high blood pressure often donât experience this night time dip. This lack of a lowering of blood pressure at night is referred to as non-dipping.Whatâs the big deal? Heart attack and stroke have been found to be associated with non-dipping. Your blood pressure stays elevated, and your body is not in the relaxed state it should be during rest.
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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Blood Pressure Measuring Tips
Some important tips for measuring blood pressure:
- Always read the instructions of the blood pressure monitor carefully. For example, there are blood pressure monitors that differentiate between measuring on the left or right arm.
- Make sure you do not smoke or drink coffee right before the measurement.
- During the measurement itself, you do not eat, drink or talk and you sit still.
- When you measure your blood pressure, you should always do this in a seated position.
- In addition, it is important that your arm rests on a table.
- To measure blood pressure correctly, you must be completely relaxed.
- You should hold this position for about 5 minutes before taking the first measurement. While doing so, you should not talk or move.
- The cuff should be approximately at the level of the heart. Your upper arm should be bare.
- The cuff should not be too loose or too tight.
- The first time you take a measurement on both arms. Then use the arm where the highest blood pressure was measured.
With these tips you can take a good and reliable blood pressure measurement.
Why The Test Is Performed
High blood pressure has no symptoms, so you may not know if you have this problem. High blood pressure is often discovered during a visit to the provider for another reason, such as a routine physical exam.
Finding high blood pressure and treating it early can help prevent heart disease, stroke, eye problems, or chronic kidney disease. All adults 18 years and older should have their blood pressure checked regularly:
- Once a year for adults aged 40 years and older
- Once a year for people at increased risk for high blood pressure, including people who are overweight or obese, African Americans, and those with high-normal blood pressure 130 to 139/85 to 89 mm Hg
- Every 3 to 5 years for adults aged 18 to 39 years with blood pressure lower than 130/85 mm Hg who do not have other risk factors
Your provider may recommend more frequent screenings based on your blood pressure levels and other health conditions.
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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:
Are Your Vital Signs In The Normal Range
Your health, or the health of your loved ones, is important to you. Thats why you want to know how to check your vital signs correctly and understand what they mean.
Now you know how to check your vital signs accurately and whats the normal range for blood pressure, pulse rate, body temperature, and respiration rate.
Are you n the normal range? If youre not, work with your medical provider to find your normal range, and find any problems before they become serious.
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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.
Use An Upper Arm Automated Device
Home blood pressure measurement devices should have upper arm cuffs and automatically inflate, said Dr. Rakotz. This means that you push a button to take the measurement so you dont have to squeeze a bulb to manually inflate the cuff and use a stethoscope to obtain readings.
Patients also should use an upper arm cuff that is appropriately sized for their arm to get accurate measurements, he said, adding that home BP measurement devices typically come with a standard-sized cuff, so its helpful to make sure that the standard cuff fits a patients mid-upper arm appropriately.
If the standard cuff does not fit, the device will not provide accurate measurements, Dr. Rakotz added.
Other nice features for the device to have are memory storage and for it to be Bluetooth enabled.
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How To Check Blood Pressure With No Cuff
This article was co-authored by Erik Kramer, DO, MPH. Dr. Erik Kramer is a Primary Care Physician at the University of Colorado, specializing in internal medicine, diabetes, and weight management. He received his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. Dr. Kramer is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and is board certified.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 95,961 times.
Your blood pressure measure the force your blood exerts on the sides of the blood vessels as it moves around your body and is an important indicator of your health. Blood pressure monitoring should be done with a cuff and a stethoscope instruments that most people do not have at home, but are necessary for an accurate reading. If you want to check if your systolic blood pressure is normal, you can use your pulse for a rough estimate. Diastolic blood pressure must always be done with an arm cuff or stethoscope.XResearch source
Why Do I Need A Blood Pressure Test
A blood pressure measurement is often included as part of a regular checkup. Adults 18 years and older should have their blood pressure measured at least once every two to five years. You should get tested every year if you have certain risk factors. You may be at higher risk if you:
- Are 40 years old or older
- Are overweight or have obesity
- Are Black/African American. Black/African Americans have a higher rate of high blood pressure than other racial and ethnic groups
You may need this test if you have symptoms of low blood pressure.
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If You Get A High Blood Pressure Reading
- A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
- If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.
How To Use An Automated Blood Pressure Machine
The easiest way to take your own blood pressure is to purchase an automated cuff. Automatic blood pressure machines are the easiest to use, and theyre helpful if you have any hearing impairments.
These types of blood pressure cuffs have a digital monitor that will display your blood pressure reading on a screen. You can purchase these online, at most grocery stores, or at a health food store.
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, upper arm blood pressure monitor for at-home use. To use your digital blood pressure monitor, follow the instructions that come with it. You can also take the monitor to your doctors office, or even your local pharmacy, for a demonstration.
You should also purchase a small notebook to start a blood pressure log. This can be helpful for your doctor. You can a free blood pressure log from the AHA.
Machines can give you a different reading than a manual blood pressure reading. Bring your cuff to your next doctors appointment so you can compare the reading from your cuff to the reading your doctor takes. This can help you calibrate your machine and identify levels you should look for on your own device.
Its also important to purchase a high-quality machine and monitor for errors. Even if you check your blood pressure at home, your doctor will still want to manually check it during appointments.
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How To Measure Respiration Rate
Respiration rate is measured by counting your breaths for one minute at rest. The best way to measure respiration rate is for someone to count your breaths for you without telling you when theyre counting. If youre observing your own breathing, you may try to breathe slower than usual, causing an inaccurate count.
Answer the following questions to help your medical provider diagnose abnormal respiration rates.
- Are you having difficulty breathing at rest?
- What is your depth of breathing?
- What is your breathing pattern?
Measuring Blood Pressure With Apple Watch
At the moment, blood pressure can not be measured reliably with the Apple Watch, just as with the iPhone. However, rumors and patent applications are increasingly suggesting that Apple is developing wristbands for the Apple Watch that can measure health data such as blood sugar and blood pressure.
As there’s no official information from Apple so far, we have to be patient and wait for future announcements. In the meantime, bluetooth blood pressure monitors paired with a blood pressure app are a proven alternative.
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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.
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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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Blood Pressure Measurement
If you were diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend one or more of the following lifestyle changes.
- Exercise regularly. Staying active can help lower your blood pressure and also help manage your weight. Most adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Check with your provider before beginning an exercise program.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. Limit foods high in saturated fat and total fat.
- Reduce salt in your diet. Most adults should have less than 1500 mg of salt per day.
- Limit alcohol use. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one drink a day if you are a woman two drinks a day if you’re a man.
- Don’t smoke.