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.
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.
What Are Benefits Associated With 24
Ambulatory monitoring can rule out white coat hypertension, so that people arent given unnecessary prescriptions for BP-lowering drugs. It can also detect masked hypertension, so that people receive the medications needed for high blood pressure. The incidence of stroke, heart disease and organ damage due to hypertension can be reduced among those patients. Ambulatory monitoring may also be useful in evaluating a patients response to long-acting antihypertensive medications.
Don’t Miss: Do Onions Lower Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure Assessment Tips
Keep learning about blood pressure assessment by reading how to mitigate NIBP and auscultating innacuracies by watching the plethysmography waveform on your pulse oximeter and noting the mean arterial pressure.
Read next: Learn how to read a MAP.
1. James PA, Oparil S, Carter BL, et al. 2014 Evidence-Based Guideline for the Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults: Report From the Panel Members Appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee . JAMA. 2014 311:507-520.
2. Pickering TG, Hall JE, Appel LJ, et al. AHA Scientific Statement: Recommendations for blood pressure measurement in humans and experimental animals, part 1: blood pressure measurement in humans. Hypertension. 2005 45: 142-161.
3. Deakin CD, Low JL. Accuracy of the advanced trauma life support guidelines for predicting systolic blood pressure using carotid, femoral, and radial pulses: observational study. BMJ. 2000 321: 673674.
4. Lehman LH, Saeed M, Talmor D, Mark R, Malhotra A. Methods of blood pressure measurement in the ICU. Crit Care Med. 2013 41:34-40.
This article, originally posted Apr. 9, 2014, has been updated.
Fill out the form below to download a guide to reading blood pressure.
One sheet: Common blood pressure reading mistakes
What Equipment Do I Need To Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
To measure your blood pressure at home, you can use either an aneroid monitor or digital monitor. Choose the type of monitor that best meets your needs. Look at the following features when you select a monitor.
- Size: The right cuff size is very important. The cuff size you need is based on the size of your arm. You can ask the doctor, nurse, orpharmacist to help you. Blood pressure readings can be wrong if your cuff is the wrong size.
- Price: Cost may be a key factor. Home blood pressure units vary in price. You may want to shop around to find the best deal. Keep in mind that pricey units may not be the best or most accurate.
- Display: The numbers on the monitor should be easy for you to read.
- Sound: You must be able to hear your heartbeat through the stethoscope.
Tests show that finger and wrist devices do not always provide correct measurements. These devices are sensitive to placement and body temperature. They also are expensive and can cost more than $100.
The aneroid monitor manually checks your blood pressure. It has a gauge that you read by looking at a pointer on the dial. The cuff goes around your upper arm and you squeeze a rubber bulb to inflate it by hand.
Inflation of the cuff is either automatic or manual, depending on the model. Deflation is automatic. Digital monitors are good for hearing-impaired patients, since there is no need to listen to your heartbeat through the stethoscope.
Don’t Miss: Do Onions Lower Blood Pressure
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 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.
Read Also: Is High Blood Pressure Heart Disease
Will My Reading Be As Accurate As At The Doctors Office
Many home blood pressure monitors are just as accurate as the doctors office. In fact, many doctors have started using automated BP devices in their offices because they eliminate the human error of manual methods.
But before you strap that cuff on, there are a few things to pay attention to first:
Use a clinically validated blood pressure monitor
This is more than just receiving clearance from the Health Canada, which is required for all blood pressure monitors sold in the Canada.
Clinical validation is an independent study that verifies the accuracy of the device using standardized medical protocols, and these studies are then published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
You can view our clinical validations here.
Use the right size cuff
If the cuff you use is too small, your blood pressure reading will be artificially high. If your cuff is too large, you may get a lower-than-actual reading.
To determine the right cuff size for you, with your arm hanging at the side of your body, measure the circumference of your upper arm at the midpoint between shoulder and elbow.
Understand what can impact your measurements
While it might seem obvious that if you just went on a run or had an argument, you blood pressure might be a little high. But there are many other factors that can cause variations in your measurements, including the time of day, climate, altitude, and even the season.
Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges
Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
|SYSTOLIC mm Hg||and/or||DIASTOLIC mm Hg|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 1||130 139|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 2||140 OR HIGHER|
|HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS||HIGHER THAN 180||and/or||HIGHER THAN 120|
Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.
Don’t Miss: Onion Blood Pressure
Reading Blood Pressure: Were We Taught Wrong
In nursing school, we were taught to only take the blood pressure reading on the very first try and if we could not get it accurately, we were to wait for a few minutes to take it again. We were taught this not because it was in the books. We were taught this because this is the way our instructors were taught.
There was no research based practice. It was simply the belief at the time. Unfortunately, it leads to an inaccurate blood pressure reading.
Further complicating this, many do not accurately read the blood pressure because of failing to do the way they were taught.
You may see the nurses aids, although taught how to read the blood pressure cuff, they too will do it wrong. You will see blood pressures taken on the wrist and on patients soon after they got bad news like they could not go home because their blood pressure is too high or while in unattended pain.
Add to this a wrong size cuff and the wrong blood pressure reading continues in hospitals around the world. Rarely will you see multiple cuffs used on a floor. Usually it is one size fits all, not quite the way it is taught in schools.
Blood Pressure Pieces Of Evidence
Your heart is your most important structure, and its a good idea to know how well its doing. With Omron home blood pressure monitors, you dependably get an accurate picture of your hearts health.
One in three adults agonizes from high blood pressure in America. This disorder can lead to heart occurrences, strokes, kidney failure, and sightlessness. With the Omron 3 SEQUENCE upper arm monitor, you can monitor your blood pressure at home, and with the help of your doctor, take steps to reduce your risk of heart sickness. A healthy heart combined with a healthy lifestyle will help increase your probabilities for long, active life.
Also Check: Do Onions Lower Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure Monitoring At Home
Many people monitor their blood pressure at home. They often do this to manage or treat a certain health condition. If you monitor your blood pressure at home, keep a record, or log, of the measurements. The record shows your doctor how your blood pressure changes throughout the day. If you take medicines to control your blood pressure, it will help document if they are working. Measuring your blood pressure at home is a good way to take part in managing your health.
What Are Some Common Reasons Why My Blood Pressure Readings Seem Higher Than Expected
There are many reasons why blood pressure readings may seem high. Below are some of the common reasons and the estimated ranges of how much readings can vary. It is important to ensure you are using the monitor as it was intended, so please make sure you are following the directions in the instruction manual, or call our consumer support line at if you have questions. It is also important to note that if you can continue to see high readings, discuss with your doctor or a medical professional it is possible that your blood pressure is actually higher than what you believe it to be.
Read Also: Does Spicy Food Cause High Blood Pressure
A& d Brand Blood Pressure Monitor Error Codes
Many of our members use an A& D brand blood pressure monitor in conjunction with our app. Some common errors on these devices are caused by too much movement during the measurement and an improperly-fitting cuff. Check out this chart of A& D error codes to see what may be causing you trouble, or take a look at an A& D blood pressure monitor manual.
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
Don’t Miss: Does Spicy Food Cause High Blood Pressure
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.
Tips For Getting An Accurate Blood Pressure Reading
Along with error messages, you may be getting blood pressure readings that just dont seem right. While your blood pressure could genuinely be elevated due to diet, stress or other factors, you may accidentally be throwing things off. Follow these steps to be sure youre getting the most accurate blood pressure reading possible:
- Dont talk during the measurement. Talking during a test can add up to 10 points to your reading.
- Place the cuff on your bare skin, half an inch above the bend in your elbow. Having clothing between the cuff and your skin can add up to 50mmHG to a reading.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and your legs uncrossed. Crossing your legs squeezes your veins, which can raise your reading.
- Dont drink caffeine or smoke within 30 minutes of a test. Caffeine and nicotine can both raise your blood pressure.
|If youre an older adult looking for a helping hand as you tackle high blood pressure, diabetes or other health issues, you may qualify for a myNurse membership as a Medicare-covered benefit. Membership comes with remote health monitoring, connected health testing devices and one-on-one coaching. See how it works and check if your insurance covers the program.|
You May Like: Does Vodka Raise Blood Pressure
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.