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How To Read Blood Pressure Readings

Preventing High Blood Pressure

How To Take a Blood Pressure Reading

To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:

Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.

Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.

Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.

Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.

Get enough sleep. For most adults, thatâs 7-8 hours of sleep per night, on a regular basis.

If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.

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How Do I Know If My Monitor Is Accurate Or If I Am Using It Correctly

Once you buy your device, have your doctor check it for accuracy. They should check your monitor once a year. On your own, periodically check the tubing for cracks and leaks. Proper care and storage are necessary. Make sure the tubing is not twisted when you store it. Keep it away from heat.

Ask your doctor or nurse to teach you how to use your blood pressure monitor correctly. This will help you achieve good results in controlling your blood pressure.

Reading Your Blood Pressure Meter

Your blood pressure reading shows up as two numbers, as shown on the meter below. The top number is the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure. This example shows a good blood pressure reading with their diastolic reading being a little higher than normal.

If your blood pressure is in the prehypertensive or hypertensive range, you should work with your healthcare provider about the best ways to manage blood pressure and lower your risk for complications such as stroke or heart attack.

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Youve Incorrectly Positioned Your Patients Body

The second most common error in BP measurement is incorrect limb position. To accurately assess blood flow in an extremity, influences of gravity must be eliminated.

The standard reference level for measurement of blood pressure by any technique direct or indirect is at the level of the heart. When using a cuff, the arm where the cuff is applied must be at mid-heart level. Measuring BP in an extremity positioned above heart level will provide a falsely low BP whereas falsely high readings will be obtained whenever a limb is positioned below heart level. Errors can be significant typically 2 mmHg for each inch the extremity is above or below heart level.

A seated upright position provides the most accurate blood pressure, as long as the arm in which the pressure is taken remains at the patients side. Patients lying on their side, or in other positions, can pose problems for accurate pressure measurement. To correctly assess BP in a side lying patient, hold the BP cuff extremity at mid heart level while taking the pressure. In seated patients, be certain to leave the arm at the patients side.

Arterial pressure transducers are subject to similar inaccuracies when the transducer is not positioned at mid-heart level. This location, referred to as the phlebostatic axis, is located at the intersection of the fourth intercostal space and mid-chest level (halfway between the anterior and posterior chest surfaces.

Home Remedies For Low Blood Pressure

How to read your blood pressure and understand what it ...

While you can seek clinical advice and medication to cope with low blood pressure, using natural and home remedies can also be of help. These are:

  • Eating Small Portions Periodically- Between major meals of the day, do not stay hungry. Munch on healthy snacks and foods. This will help in thwarting major fall in blood pressure readings.
  • Drinking Adequate Fluids- It is important that you do not become dehydrated as that can lead to hypotension. Drinking 2 liters of water day is a must for this. Apart from water, you may have fruit juice. Pomegranate juice is advisable for coping with hypotension.
  • Raisins- You may eat a handful of raisins everyday to cope with low blood pressure. Drinking water in which the raisins are soaked overnight can also be of help.
  • Almond and Milk- To improve hypotension related conditions, you may intake almonds soaked in milk. Mixing almond paste in milk and drinking it may also help.
  • Beetroot Juice- Drinking a glass of beetroot juice daily will aid you in battling low blood pressure. You may add a little honey with the juice to enhance the taste.

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Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges

Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure Chart


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.

The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:

How To Read Blood Pressure

This article was co-authored by Timothy Sherman, RN. Timothy Sherman is a Registered Nurse based in Austin, Texas and affiliated with St. David’s HealthCare. With over seven years of nursing experience, Timothy specializes in working with adults in a general medical/surgical setting, chemotherapy, and with biotherapy administration. He has also instructed Essentials of Medical Terminology and Anatomy and Physiology for Medical Assistants at Austin Community College. He received his BS in Nursing from Wichita State University in 2012.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 143,622 times.

Your blood pressure shows how much your body has to work to pump blood to your organs. It can be low , normal, or high . Having hypotension or hypertension can cause medical conditions like heart disease or diminished brain function.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source

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How To Understand Blood Pressure Readings

It is important for everyone to have a healthy blood pressure which is measured by analyzing the amount of pressure in the arteries all through the contraction of heart muscle and during the time between two heartbeats. The former is referred as systolic pressure and latter is referred as diastolic pressure. It is expressed as 120/80 which is considered normal. It is important to know the nuances of blood pressure readings.

What Is A Normal Blood Pressure Reading

How to Read Your Own Blood Pressure

You can get a blood pressure reading with various blood pressure monitors at Urgent Care NYC. These include a wrist monitor, an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, or the good old fashioned kind complete with inflatable ball and mercury bubble. No matter which monitor you use, however, a normal blood pressure reading will always fall within a certain range. To understand what makes up a normal blood pressure reading, its important to know what blood pressure is. The heart pumps blood through the four heart chambers and into major arteries that transport blood throughout the body via the circulatory system. Each time the heart muscle contracts, it creates pressure known as systolic blood pressure. This pressure is measured to produce the first numbers got through a blood pressure reading. When the heart muscle relaxes, between beats, is the moment that systolic blood pressure can be measured.

Blood Pressure Range

For most healthy people, blood pressure falls within a certain range. Those who suffer from stress, high cholesterol or obesity often have increased heart rates that are known as high blood pressure. On the other end of the range, some people also suffer from low blood pressure, but this is almost always because of illness or blood loss. Extremely low blood pressure can cause shock and in the end, death.

Blood Pressure in Children

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What Do The Numbers Mean

When a healthcare professional takes your blood pressure, its expressed as a measurement with two numbers, one number on top and one on the bottom , like a fraction. For example, 120/80 mm Hg.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury. Thats what the mm/Hg stands for. Heres what the numbers mean:

  • Your systolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries when your heart contracts or beats.
  • Your diastolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries between beats, when your heart relaxes.

Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart health.

Numbers greater than the ideal range may be a sign that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.

For a normal reading, your blood pressure needs to show:

  • a systolic pressure thats above 90 mm Hg and less than 120 mm Hg, and
  • a diastolic pressure thats between 60 mm Hg and less than 80 mm Hg

The American Heart Association considers blood pressure to be within the normal range when both your systolic and diastolic numbers are in these ranges.

If youre in the normal range, no medical intervention is needed. However, its important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and moderate weight to help prevent high blood pressure from developing.

You may need to be even more mindful of your lifestyle if high blood pressure runs in your family.

Taking Your Pulse Versus Checking Your Blood Pressure

While both are indications of health, blood pressure and heart rate are two separate measurements. Learn more about the difference between blood pressure and heart rate.

Systolic is less than 120 and my diastolic is less than 80

Great job! Your blood pressure is normal. To keep your readings in this range, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Systolic is 120 129 and my diastolic is less than 80

The good news is that you dont have high blood pressure. However, your numbers fall within the Elevated category, making you more likely to develop high blood pressure unless you take action to control it. Ready to make some small changes that have big impacts? Healthy lifestyle choices are a great place to start.

Systolic is 130 139 or my diastolic is 80 89

You are in the first stage of hypertension, but there are actions you can take to get your blood pressure under control. Your doctor will speak to you about small changes that can make a big difference and other BP Raisers. In addition, monitoring blood pressure outside of the doctors office is important for BP control.

Systolic is 140 or higher or my diastolic is 90 or higher

Systolic is higher than 180 and/or my diastolic is higher than 120

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

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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.

Reading Blood Pressure: A New Paradigm

Blood Pressure Readings Explained

Dr. Batmanghelidj proposed a new paradigm in reading blood pressure. There is no science supporting current methods of blood pressure reading. There is no research demonstrating that Dr. B’s suggestion is correct. But considering that what he says is true, it seems logical that it is time for a change in the way we read blood pressures.

When it comes to reading blood pressure on patients, many times the professionals do not do it right. If they do not do it right and they are teaching others how to do it, how accurate can the readings be?

This is to guide you in how to get a proper reading from a blood pressure cuff and correct blood pressure monitoring.

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What Does The Diastolic Blood Pressure Number Mean

The diastolic reading, or the bottom number, is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. This is the time when the heart fills with blood and gets oxygen.

This is what your diastolic blood pressure number means:

  • Normal: Lower than 80
  • Stage 2 hypertension: 90 or more
  • Hypertensive crisis: 120 or more. Call 911.

Our chart below has more details.

Even if your diastolic number is normal , you can have elevated blood pressure if the systolic reading is 120-129.

What About Blood Pressure Thats Too Low

Low blood pressure is known as hypotension. In adults, a blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm Hg or below is often considered hypotension.

Hypotension can be dangerous because blood pressure thats too low doesnt supply your body and heart with enough oxygenated blood.

Some potential causes of hypotension can include:

  • heart problems

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The Best Time To Your Blood Pressure

Take your blood pressure once in the morning and once in the evening. Then do two readings, at least a minute apart from each other, says Dr. Distel. If your reading seems too high or too low, wait a few minutes and then try again.

Try getting in a routine, too, so you can notice any patterns or shifts in your results.

And youll want to record your readings in a journal or notebook. Write down the date, time of day, systolic and diastolic numbers, heart rate and which arm you took the reading on. This will help you notice changes.

Dr. Distel says you can also talk to your doctor about 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This device allows your blood pressure to be measured over a 24-hour period, even while you sleep.

It takes your blood pressure every three to five minutes, says Dr. Distel. If someone didnt want to have to constantly check their own blood pressure it could be an option.

What Is Low Blood Pressure

How Blood Pressure Readings Work

Low blood pressure or hypotension is a condition when the diastolic pressure in your heart falls below normal range. If the reading falls below 90/60 mm Hg- it is indicative of hypotension. This may turn out to be risky as low blood pressure will lead to your body organs not getting enough oxygenated blood.

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Why Blood Pressure Is Measured In Mm Hg

The abbreviation mm Hg means millimeters of mercury. Mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges and is still used in medicine today as the standard unit measurement of pressure.

Keep the track of blood pressure at your home If someones facing the issue of high BP, then theres a need to keep a track of it at the home. This method would help the doctor know whether the treatment is working on the right path or not. Sometimes, it is seen that when you go to the doctors office your BP automatically gets high compare to other surroundings and this condition is called white coat hypertension

Doctors usually recommend you to buy an easy-to-use home BP monitor. While measuring always makes sure that the cuff fits the arm properly and if you feel that the arm is bigger than the cuff, then the reading of the BP will be higher than what exactly it is. With the bigger arms, you need to buy a monitor with a bigger cuff.

Measurement Of Force Of Arterial Blood Flow

Blood pressure is the term used to describe the force of blood as it is pumped through the arteries with each heartbeat. A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers, with the pressure measured in millimeters of mercury . A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg, or 120 over 80. The systolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart beats . The diastolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart is resting .

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