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.
Where Can I Learn How To Take My Blood Pressure Myself
In Germany and other countries, people with high blood pressure can attend patient education courses that teach a number of things, including how to measure your blood pressure. As part of specialized disease management programs for people who have narrow coronary arteries , statutory health insurers offer additional healthcare services. These include patient education about high blood pressure. Some doctors practices don’t offer these courses, though.
How To Use An Automated Blood Pressure Machine
The simplest way to measure your own blood pressure is to purchase an automated cuff. Automatic blood pressure machines are easy 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 automated, upper arm blood pressure monitor for at-home use. To use your digital blood pressure monitor, carefully follow the instructions that come with the monitor. You can also take the monitor to your doctors office, or even your local pharmacy, for a demonstration.
You should also have a notebook to use as a blood pressure log. This can be helpful for your doctor. You can also a free blood pressure log from the AHA.
Automated blood pressure 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 thats taken at your doctors office. This can help you calibrate your machine and identify the blood pressure levels you should look for on your own device.
Even if you check your blood pressure at home, your doctor will still want to manually check it during appointments.
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Choosing A Home Blood Pressure Monitor
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor.
- Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
- Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice or find options at validatebp.org.
- When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
- Make sure the cuff fits measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
By Your Health Care Professional
To measure your blood pressure, your health care provider wraps a special cuff around your arm. Cuffs come in different sizes, and it will be important that the proper cuff size is used. The cuff is connected to a gauge that will measure your blood pressure. The cuff will be inflated to squeeze your arm, and then the air will slowly be released. The health care provider will listen to your pulse with a stethoscope and watch the blood pressure gauge. This gauge uses a scale called millimeters of mercury to measure the pressure in your blood vessels. Alternatively, an automated or digital device may be used.
Your provider will report your blood pressure as the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure. Discuss with your provider what your target blood pressure level is. Your target blood pressure is:
Your blood pressure can be affected by simple things like talking during the measurement or crossing your legs while the measurement is being taken. Before your blood pressure is measured in the office:
- Do not eat, smoke, or exercise for at least 30 minutes do not use any medicine that can raise blood pressure .
- Use the bathroom if you need to before getting your blood pressure checked.
- Rest for at least 5 minutes before your blood pressure is measured. Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position with both feet on the floor.
- Do not move or talk while the blood pressure is being measured.
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Measuring Blood Pressure With A Sphygmomanometer
A sphygmomanometer has three parts:
- a cuff that can be inflated with air,
- a pressure meter for measuring air pressure in the cuff, and
- a stethoscope for listening to the sound the blood makes as it flows through the brachial artery .
The scale of the pressure meter ranges from 0 to 300 mmHg. The pressure meter has a rubber pump on it for inflating the cuff and a button for letting the air out.
To measure blood pressure, the cuff is placed around the bare and stretched out upper arm, and inflated until no blood can flow through the brachial artery. Then the air is slowly let out of the cuff.
As soon as the air pressure in the cuff falls below the systolic blood pressure in the brachial artery, blood will start to flow through the arm once again. This creates a pounding sound when the arteries close again and the walls of the vessels hit each other after a heart beat. The sound can be heard by placing the stethoscope close to the elbow. Right when you start to hear this pounding for the first time you can read your systolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.
The pounding sound stops when the air pressure in the cuff falls below the diastolic blood pressure in the brachial artery. Then the blood vessels remain open. Right when the pounding stops, you can read the diastolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.
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.
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What Affects A Blood Pressure Reading
Many things can affect a blood pressure reading, including:
- Nervousness about having your blood pressure taken. This is called white coat syndrome. As many as 1 in 3 people who have a high blood pressure reading at the doctors office may have normal blood pressure readings outside of it.1
- What you ate, drank, or did before your reading. If you smoked, drank alcohol or caffeine, or exercised within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured, your reading might be higher.2
- How you are sitting. Crossing your legs and letting your arm droop at your side rather than rest on a table at chest height can make your blood pressure go up.2
Its important to get an accurate blood pressure reading so that you have a clearer picture of your risk for heart disease and stroke.
A reading that says your blood pressure is lower than it actually is may give you a false sense of security about your health. A reading that says your blood pressure is higher than it actually is may lead to treatment you dont need.
What Do Blood Pressure Readings Tell You
Blood pressure is measured using two different readings. Heres what they mean:
- Systolic pressure. The first reading is called your systolic pressure. Its the first or top number in a reading. Systolic pressure measures the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is contracting to pump blood.
- Diastolic pressure. The second reading is your diastolic number. Its the second or bottom number. Diastolic pressure measures the pressure inside your arteries when your heart relaxes between beats.
For example, you may see blood pressure written as 117/80 mm Hg . In that case, the systolic pressure is 117 and the diastolic pressure is 80.
Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80 mm Hg. This number can vary for many reasons.
Higher numbers in either measurement can be a sign that your heart is working extra hard to pump blood through your arteries. This may be the result of an external trigger, like if youre feeling stressed or scared. When this happens, it can cause your blood vessels to get narrower.
Higher blood pressure measurements could also be caused by an internal force, such as the buildup of plaque or fatty deposits in your arteries. This can also cause your blood vessels to become narrower, which, in turn, can increase your blood pressure.
- before or after you take a certain medication
- at certain times of the day
- when youre stressed or feeling dizzy
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Positioning The Blood Pressure Cuff
Welcome To Our Home Monitoring Resource Hub
Here you can find resources for home monitoring, see our simple steps to get an accurate reading and make the most out of home monitoring.
Plus, read more about .
The first step to managing your blood pressure is to Know Your Numbers! Watch our video to see how to measure your blood pressure at home and use our tips and resources below to check your own blood pressure at home.
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At Your Local Pharmacy
Public blood pressure machines, such as those found in pharmacies, may provide helpful information about your blood pressure, but they may also have some limitations. The accuracy of these machines depends upon several factors, such as a correct cuff size and proper use of the machines. Ask your health care provider for advice on using public blood pressure machines.
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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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.
What Is Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
If a doctor recommends ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, you will need to wear a blood pressure cuff for 24 hours. It’s connected to a small, portable measuring device that automatically measures your blood pressure at set times and records the readings.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is used, for example, to see whether blood pressure levels vary greatly over the course of the day and night or whether they are constantly elevated. During those 24 hours, you can do all of the usual things you would otherwise do over the course of the day. If you are especially active at certain times, you can make a note in a diary. Then the doctor has a better idea of how to interpret the recorded values when evaluating them.
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Choose The Right Device
Buy a blood pressure monitor. These are small, usually digital automated devices attached to a blood pressure cuff. They can be purchased at most pharmacies and used at home. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to check the monitor to make sure it fits your arm well. Heres a list of home blood pressure monitors recommended by Hypertension Canada. If money is tight, many pharmacies have a public station for checking blood pressure. You can also get it checked at the nearest fire hall station!
What Is It Used For
A blood pressure measurement is most often used to diagnose high blood pressure.
Blood pressure that’s too low, known as hypotension, is much less common. But you may get tested for low blood pressure if you have certain symptoms. Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure usually causes symptoms. These include:
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What Happens During A Blood Pressure Test
A blood pressure test includes the following steps:
- You will sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- You will rest your arm on a table or other surface, so your arm is level with your heart. You may be asked to roll up your sleeve.
- Your provider will wrap a blood pressure cuff around your arm. A blood pressure cuff is a strap-like device. It should fit snugly around your upper arm, with the bottom edge placed just above your elbow.
- Your provider will inflate the blood pressure cuff using a small hand pump or by pressing a button on an automated device.
- Your provider will measure the pressure manually or with an automated device.
- If manually, he or she will place a stethoscope over the major artery in your upper arm to listen to the blood flow and pulse as the cuff inflates and deflates.
- If using an automated device, the blood pressure cuff automatically inflates, deflates, and measures pressure.
This test only takes about one minute to complete.
How To Monitor Blood Pressure Correctly
Follow these steps to correctly measure your blood pressure. If you have questions, contact your healthcare team.
Be sure to see your healthcare provider if youre consistently having high blood pressure readings at home.
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