Watch The Person Taking Your Blood Pressure Closely
The technique is extremely important and can give a false reading if not done correctly.
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.
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.
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Youre Not Factoring In Electronic Units Correctly
Electronic blood pressure units also called Non Invasive Blood Pressure machines, sense air pressure changes in the cuff caused by blood flowing through the BP cuff extremity. Sensors estimate the Mean Arterial Pressure and the patients pulse rate. Software in the machine uses these two values to calculate the systolic and diastolic BP.
To assure accuracy from electronic units, it is important to verify the displayed pulse with an actual patient pulse. Differences of more than 10 percent will seriously alter the units calculations and produce incorrect systolic and diastolic values on the display screen.
Given that MAP is the only pressure actually measured by an NIBP, and since MAP varies little throughout the body, it makes sense to use this number for treatment decisions.
A normal adult MAP ranges from 70 to 105 mmHg. As the organ most sensitive to pressure, the kidneys typically require an MAP above 60 to stay alive, and sustain irreversible damage beyond 20 minutes below that in most adults. Because individual requirements vary, most clinicians consider a MAP of 70 as a reasonable lower limit for their adult patients.
Finally, and especially in the critical care transport environment, providers will encounter patients with significant variations between NIBP and arterial line measured blood pressure values.
How To Use A Blood Pressure Cuff At Home
You could always inflate a manual sphygmomanometer with a hand pump and count Korotkoff sounds in your head, but why would you when wireless, digital blood pressure monitors are so readily available these days? They don’t have to be expensive, either: Some models sell for less than $30 a unit.
Plus, you’re way more likely to get an accurate blood pressure reading if you use a digital cuff — there’s less room for error. To take your blood pressure at home with a digital blood pressure monitor, all you have to do is:
1. Slide the blood pressure cuff onto your upper arm and secure it so that it sits snugly about one inch above the crease of your elbow.
2. If you have an automatic model, simply push the button that inflates the cuff. If you have a manual model, use the hand pump to inflate the cuff.
3. After the cuff fully inflates, air will automatically start flowing back out.
4. Look at the screen to get your blood pressure reading.
5. If you need to repeat the measurement, wait a few minutes before attempting a new reading.
At-home, digital blood pressure monitors can be worn on the wrist or upper arm, depending on what model you choose.
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How Does A Blood Pressure Monitor Work
Blood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure monitor. It consists of an inflatable cuff thats wrapped around your arm, roughly level with your heart, and a monitoring device that measures the cuffs pressure.
The monitor measures two pressures: systolic, and diastolic. Systolic pressure is higher, occurring when your heart beats and pushes blood through the arteries, and diastolic pressure is measured when your heart is resting and filling with blood. So, for example, your blood pressure might be 120 over 80.
Blood pressure monitors may be manual or digital, but home monitors are usually digital and the whole measurement process is automatic apart from placing the cuff around your arm.
The cuff then inflates until it fits tightly around your arm, cutting off your blood flow, and then the valve opens to deflate it. As the cuff reaches your systolic pressure, blood begins to flow around your artery. This creates a vibration thats detected by the meter, which records your systolic pressure. In a traditional analogue sphygmomanometer, the blood sounds are detected by the doctor using a stethoscope.
As the cuff continues to deflate, it reaches your diastolic pressure, and the vibration stops. The meter senses this, and records the pressure again.
What Does My Blood Pressure Reading Mean
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you may have something called prehypertension. This means that you are at risk for high blood pressure.
|High blood pressure: Stage 2||160 or higher||100 or over|
*If you have diabetes or kidney disease, high blood pressure ranges may be lower than for other people. Or, if you are older than 65, goal blood pressure may be higher. Talk to your doctor about what is considered high blood pressure for you.
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Before You Measure Your Blood Pressure
- Avoid things that can raise your blood pressure in the short term. Dont measure your blood pressure within half an hour of eating, smoking, drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, or exercising. These can all raise your blood pressure temporarily. If you need to use the toilet, go before you measure your blood pressure.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Wear a short-sleeved t-shirt or something with sleeves you can push up easily, nothing tight. This is so that you can fit the cuff around your arm.
- Rest for five minutes before you take your reading. Sit down somewhere quiet, ideally at a desk or table. Have your back supported with your arm resting on a firm surface and your feet flat on the floor. Stay in this position while you take your blood pressure.
- Make sure your arm is supported and at the same level as your heart. Position yourself so that your arm is resting on a surface and is at the same height as your heart. Keep your arm and hand relaxed, not tensed.
- Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are anxious or uncomfortable, your blood pressure will rise temporarily.
When To Check Blood Pressure
If youre using a blood pressure monitor on your doctors advice, he or she should tell you when to take readings. As a rule, though, you should take them at the same time of day on each occasion, so youre comparing like with like.
Take a few readings each time, a couple of minutes apart, and calculate the average to make the figures more representative. And if your blood pressure monitor doesnt store your readings for you, jot them down in a notebook to get an idea of long-term trends.
Bupa . High blood pressure. Retrieved from www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/heart-blood-circulation/high-blood-pressure-hypertension
American Heart Association . Monitoring your blood pressure at home. Retrieved from www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings/monitoring-your-blood-pressure-at-home
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Blood Pressure Cuff Placement
There are so many variables involved when measuring blood pressure. If one of them is not performed properly, your blood pressure readings will not reflect your typical pressure. Blood pressure cuff placement is one of those variables. Therefore, what is the correct blood pressure cuff placement?
A properly sized blood pressure cuff should be placed around your bare upper arm. The middle of the cuff should be positioned at the level of the right atrium. In addition, home monitor cuffs should be positioned slightly above the arm bend with the artery marker on the cuff lined up to the artery. The cuff should be pulled taught, enough to fit two finger tips under the top edge of the cuff.
There are many blood pressure articles explaining tips and proper techniques for measuring your blood pressure at home. Of course, they all address arm cuff placement, but they rarely go into complete detail. Often its just one numbered step out of many others.
This post will go into the nitty gritty and tell you everything you need to know about arm cuffs and how it can affect your blood pressure readings.
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Preparing To Check Your Blood Pressure
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Working With Your Doctor Or Nurse
You wont usually make a decision about treatment based solely on the readings you have taken at home. But they may find it useful to know what youre blood pressure is like when youre away from the clinic.
Talk to your doctor or nurse before you start to measure your blood pressure at home. They advise you on when to measure your blood pressure and how often, and this can help you both to be clear about what you are doing and why.
Bring your records with you to your appointments so they can use it to review your treatment.
Make sure your monitor is suitable and you know how to use it
It is a good idea to bring your monitor to the appointment so that your doctor or nurse can check that it is validated and accurate, that it fits properly, and that you know how to use it. They can show you if youre not sure.
For further information on home monitoring, download our booklet, Measuring your BP at home .
Obese Arms And Blood Pressure
I dont think anybody would dispute the familiar association between obesity and blood pressure 1. An obese arm possesses the potential to cause complications with BP measurement. Those issues may exaggerate hypertension more 2. So what steps should be followed for obese arms and blood pressure?
The following steps must be followed with an obese arm for blood pressure measurement:
The steps are not limited to an obese arm. Any large arm, like a very muscular one, may be troublesome. This article will expand on the 4 steps above and explain how to perform them properly. In addition, Ill inform you how inaccurate the measurements may be on an obese arm.
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Disclaimer: This post may have some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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Know Who You Can Trust
Most drug manufacturers are in the business of making money.
They are not too concerned about the side effects or whether you really need these drugs at all.
99% of all medications are now being made outside this country, and the FDA cannot and does not inspect every batch of medication imported into the United Statesin spite of its claims to closely monitor imported goods.
So, my friends, be careful. Take responsibility for your own healthcare and wellbeing by being an informed consumer, and enjoy your life.
Live each day as if it is your last one.
Have a sense of humorhumor can be found in any situation. Laughter is the best medicine for stress and anxiety. Stress is lessened when you do not keep things bottled up inside yourself. Remember to always speak your mind: those that matter don’t mind, and those that do minddon’t matter.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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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