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How Do You Take Blood Pressure Manually

Stride Bp A New International Expert Organisation Will Help You Chose The Right Home Blood Pressure Monitor For You

How to Take a Blood Pressure Manually

High blood pressure or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Left untreated it can cause you to have a heart attack or debilitating stroke, it can also increase your risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimers disease in later life.

Therefore, it is vital that if you suffer from high blood pressure and are thinking of purchasing a BP monitor to measure your blood pressure at home, that you select the right device.

With so many different devices available it can be confusing to know which is the best home BP monitor for you. The good news is that an international non-profit organization STRIDE-BPhas been recently established with the mission to improve the accuracy of BP measurement and the diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Check out the link to their website here, which provides a list of recommended and tested devices approved for home use.

Please remember that your home monitor will need to be re-calibrated every one to two years, please check the manufacturer guidelines for information on this.

High blood pressure or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke

A healthy blood pressure

Two numbers are used to measure the level of your blood pressure. One number records blood pressure when the pressure is at its highest i.e. as the heart muscle squeezes the blood out of your heart this is called systolic pressure.

How to measure your blood pressure at home

Common Blood Pressure Measurement Errors:

  • Bladder cuff too narrow or wide
  • Limb being assessed is unsupported
  • Insufficient rest before the assessment
  • Repeating the assessment too quickly
  • Cuff not wrapped tightly and evenly
  • Deflating the cuff to quickly
  • Deflating the cuff too slowly
  • Failure to use the same site for consistency
  • Limb being assessed is measured while above their heart level.
  • Berman, A et al. 2015, Kozier and Erb’s fundamentals of nursing. Pearson Australia Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Estes, MEZ., Calleja, P., Theobald, K. & Harvey, T. 2013, Health assessment and physical examination: Australian & New Zealand ed. Cengage Learning Australia South Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Tollefson, J. & Hillman, E. 2018. Clinical Psychomotor Skills. 7th ed. Cengage Learning Australia South Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Wake, D. 2017, ‘How to Take Blood Pressure’, Ausmed.

Avoid This Mistake When You Take Blood Pressure At The Wrist

Now that you know what wrist to use when taking your blood pressure, I want you to avoid the biggest mistake people make. Also, why are you using a wrist monitor? If its not for the reasons I talk about in this blog post, Are Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors Accurate? You may want to avoid using the wrist monitor in the future. I also explain why in the same blog post.

If you do require a wrist cuff monitor, you may want to check out the one I recommend here in my blog post review, Wrist Monitors.

The mistake many people make is having the cuff in the wrong position when measuring. It should be at heart level and your arm position is also important when setting up your measurement.

  • Rest the elbow on a comfortable surface.
  • Raise your wrist to heart level.
  • Keep your wrist straight and dont bend it forward or backward.
  • The tension in your wrist and hand should remain relaxed enough to keep it straight and not tensed.
  • If you choose not to use a flat surface for the elbow, ensure your arm is supported another way.

There are more wrist cuff tips which I explain in complete detail in my next blog post, How To Use a Wrist Blood Pressure Cuff.

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What Else Do I Need To Know

  • Do not take a BP reading in an arm that is injured or has an IV or shunt.
  • Take your BP medicines as directed. Do not stop taking your medicines if your BP is at your goal. A BP at your goal means your medicine is working correctly.
  • Bring the BP machine to your follow-up visit. Your healthcare provider can check that you are using it correctly.

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Misdiagnosis Of High Or Low Blood Pressure

First Ill explain how taking your pressure only on one wrist can miss a diagnosis of high blood pressure. Lets say you only check the left wrist and your readings are always 119/79. Unknown to you, the pressure in your right wrist is 131/83 which indicates your blood pressure is high 4.

Now in the same scenario lets say the pressure in your right wrist is 107/69. Since youre only checking the left wrist you wouldnt know the pressure in the other wrist is lower. While 107/69 is not considered low pressure, it wouldnt warn you of a potential pattern towards low blood pressure.

Failure to measure and record your measurements in both arms may help prevent a diagnosis of low or high blood pressure. At your next physician visit, the doctor would only be given part of your actual blood pressure patterns and recordings and not the complete picture.

Heres an interesting story. A 69 year-old woman was admitted into the hospital for surgery. Different nurses measured her pressure at different times and each nurse used a different arm. Her second reading was so much lower, they assumed her blood pressure dropped and thought her body was reacting to an infection. Little did they know at the time, her pressure never lowered and remained consistent. The pressure was lower in one arm and higher in the other.

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.

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Tips For Getting An Accurate Blood Pressure Reading

To accurately monitor your blood pressure over time, you shouldnt just plop down in a chair whenever to do a reading. Instead, you should implement some simple practices that help ensure accuracy.

1. Take your blood pressure at the same time of day for every new recording.

2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol at least 30 minutes prior to your reading.

3. Avoid exercise within 30 minutes of taking your blood pressure.

4. Sit up straight and be still throughout the measurement.

5. Take multiple measurements and record all of the results with the date and time.

6. Dont wear the blood pressure cuff over clothes.

Your blood pressure should be easy to read on a digital monitor, like this one.

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How Can I Check My Blood Pressure At Home Using

How to Take a Blood Pressure Manually and Correctly.

But you dont need to go to your doctor just to get a blood pressure reading. The easiest way to monitor your own blood pressure at home is to get a machine that has a blood pressure calculator and digital display.

Purchase a blood pressure monitor cuff that wraps around the upper arm. The cuff should fit well, and not be too loose or too tight when not in use. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because the readings arent as reliable. When choosing a blood pressure monitor, take it to your doctors office. They may be able to show you how to use it properly and check whether the machine provides accurate readings.

Here are some tips to follow while measuring your blood pressure at home:

  • Before measuring your blood pressure, sit quietly for 5 minutes with your arm relaxed on a supporting surface at the level of your heart.
  • Your back should be supported and both feet should be flat on the floor.
  • The cuff should be positioned on your upper arm as instructed on the guide that came with the monitor. It is easier to use your non-dominant arm .
  • Avoid caffeine, smoking, or exercise at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Do not take a reading if stressed or angry.

Blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association are as follows:

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Why Do I Need To Take My Bp

You may not have any signs or symptoms of high BP. You may need to take your BP regularly to know how often your BP is high. High BP increases your risk for a stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. You may need to take medicine to keep your BP at a normal level. Write down and keep a log of your BP. Your healthcare provider can use the BP results in your log to see if your BP medicines are working.

Determining Maximum Inflation Pressure

Healthcare providers determine the maximum inflation pressure before they take blood pressure. The maximum inflation pressure is the number on the sphygmomanometer that the cuff is inflated to when measuring blood pressure. If you do not determine the maximum pressure inflation, an auscultatory gap could go unrecognized, and as a result the blood pressure could be underestimated .

An auscultatory gap is a silent interval when the Korotkoff sounds go absent and then reappear while you are deflating the cuff during blood pressure measurement. This gap is an abnormal finding and can occur due to arterial stiffness and arteriosclerotic disease. It is typically observed in people with a history of hypertension who have been treated with prolonged antihypertensive medication.

To determine the maximum inflation pressure, start by palpating the brachial or radial pulse while inflating the cuff. Inflate the cuff 30 mm Hg quickly past the point when you obliterate the pulse . If you still cannot feel the pulse, use that value to start auscultating that value is the maximum inflation pressure number.

When taking blood pressure, if an auscultatory gap is observed, document the first systolic sound and diastolic sound only. Report the presence of an auscultatory gap in narrative notes.

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Positioning The Blood Pressure Cuff

  • 1Locate your pulse.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Place your index and middle fingers over the inside center of your inner elbow. When you press lightly you should be able to feel the pulse of your brachial artery from this position.
  • If you have difficultly locating your pulse, place the head of the stethoscope in the same general area and listen until you can hear your heartbeat.
  • 2Wrap the cuff around your arm. Tuck the cuff end through the metal loop and slide it onto your upper arm. The cuff should be roughly 1 inch above the bend of your elbow and should be evenly tight around your arm.
  • Make sure that your skin is not pinched by the cuff as you wrap it securely. The cuff should have heavy duty velcro on it, which will hold the cuff closed.
  • 3Check the tightness of the cuff by slipping two fingertips underneath. If you can wiggle the two fingertips under the top edge but cannot wedge your full fingers beneath the cuff, the cuff is tight enough. If you can wedge your full fingers under the cuff then you need to open up the cuff and pull it tighter before closing it again.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • Also place the stethoscope earpieces in your ears. The earpieces should face forward and point toward the tip of your nose.
  • Turn the screw on the pump bulb clockwise to close the airflow valve, if necessary.
  • Blood Pressure Readings Chart

    How to Take Blood Pressure Manually (with Pictures)

    Reading blood pressure is very easy and is categorized into four segments by the American Heart Association. The normal blood pressure is defined as anything less than 120/80 mm Hg. Healthy pressure reading may differ from individual to individual.

    Thesenumbers may fluctuate based on factors such as:

    • age
    • physical activity
    • underlying medical conditions

    Peoplewho experience a systolic pressure over 180 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure over120 mm Hg should consult your doctor immediately, as this is a sign of ahypertensive crisis and could be fatal if left unattended.

    Read Also: Can You Have Heart Disease With Normal Blood Pressure

    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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    The scary thing is that high blood pressure usually doesn’t come with any symptoms. It’s so symptomless, in fact, that it’s nicknamed the “silent killer.” Anyone at risk for high blood pressure should stay keenly aware of their blood pressure levels. Even if you’re generally healthy and don’t have a family history of hypertension, it’s still worth checking your blood pressure every so often.

    Since you probably won’t trek to the doctor’s office every day, week or month to get checked, here’s a handy guide to monitoring your blood pressure at home.

    The Quardio Arm wireless blood pressure monitor

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    Youre Using The Wrong

    The most common error when using indirect blood pressure measuring equipment is using an incorrectly sized cuff. A BP cuff that is too large will give falsely low readings, while an overly small cuff will provide readings that are falsely high.

    The American Heart Association publishes guidelines for blood pressure measurement . recommending that the bladder length and width should be 80 percent and 40 percent respectively, of arm circumference. Most practitioners find measuring bladder and arm circumference to be overly time consuming, so they dont do it.

    The most practical way to quickly and properly size a BP cuff is to pick a cuff that covers two-thirds of the distance between your patients elbow and shoulder. Carrying at least three cuff sizes will fit the majority of the adult population. Multiple smaller sizes are needed if you frequently treat pediatric patients.

    Korotkoff sounds are the noises heard through a stethoscope during cuff deflation. They occur in 5 phases:

    • I first detectable sounds, corresponding to appearance of a palpable pulse
    • II sounds become softer, longer and may occasionally transiently disappear
    • III change in sounds to a thumping quality
    • IV pitch intensity changes and sounds become muffled
    • V sounds disappear

    Apps To Track Blood Pressure

    How to Take a Blood Pressure Manually | The Correct Way!

    Although there are apps that promise to check your blood pressure without using equipment, this isnt an accurate or reliable method.

    However, there are apps available that can help you track your blood pressure results. This can be helpful in identifying patterns in your blood pressure. Your doctor may use this information to determine if you require blood pressure medications.

    Some examples of free blood pressure-monitoring apps include:

    • Blood Pressure Monitor Family Litefor iPhone. You can enter your blood pressure, weight, and height, as well as track the medications you take.
    • Blood Pressure for Android. This app tracks your blood pressure and features several statistical and graphical analysis tools.
    • Blood Pressure Companion for iPhone. This app allows you to track your blood pressure as well as view graphs and trends on your blood pressure readings across several days or weeks.

    These apps can help you quickly and easily track your blood pressure readings. Measuring your blood pressure regularly on the same arm can help you most accurately track your blood pressure readings.

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