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.
S On How To Take A Blood Pressure Manually
Here are the steps to take a manual blood pressure. Note: Before taking a patients blood pressure, always verify the specific steps required by your healthcare facility or nursing school, as guidelines or protocols may change over time.
1. Perform hand hygiene and gather your supplies.
- Supplies needed: stethoscope, sphygmomanometer , cleaning supplies, towels or pillow for support
- Tip: always use an appropriately sized blood pressure cuff
2. Have the patient sitting or lying down with their back supported. Their arm should be positioned at heart level. If necessary, use towels or a pillow to support the arm, and make sure the palms are facing up . Be sure the legs are also uncrossed. For best results, the patient should urinate before the procedure, avoid eating or drinking anything for 30 minutes before the measurement is taken, and should remain quiet .
- Find the brachial artery near the proximal portion of the elbows bend :
- This is the most common site for checking the blood pressure and is a major artery in the upper arm that divides into the radial and ulnar artery.
- To find this artery, extend the elbow joint and have the palm facing upward. The pulse point is found near the top of the cubital fossa, which is a triangular area that is in front of the elbow.
5. Place your stethoscope in your ears, palpate the brachial artery again, and place the bell of the stethoscope lightly on the brachial pulse site .
11. Remove the cuff from the patients arm.
Whats Considered Elevated Blood Pressure
Blood pressure numbers that are higher than 120/80 mm Hg are a warning sign. It means you need to pay attention to your blood pressure and focus on heart-healthy habits.
Although these numbers arent technically considered high blood pressure, youve moved out of the normal range. Elevated blood pressure may turn into high blood pressure, which puts you at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Elevated blood pressure
When your systolic pressure is between 120 and 129mm Hgand your diastolic pressure is less than 80mm Hg, it means you have elevated blood pressure.
No medications are necessary for elevated blood pressure. But your doctor may talk with you about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, such as getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and managing your weight.
You may receive a diagnosis of stage 1 hypertension if:
- your systolic blood pressure is between 130 and 139 mm Hg, or
- your diastolic blood pressure is between 80 and 89 mm Hg
However, the AHA notes that if you get only one reading this high, you may not truly have stage 1 hypertension. What determines the diagnosis of hypertension at any stage is the average of your blood pressure numbers over a period of time.
Your doctor can help you measure and track your blood pressure to confirm whether its too high.
Stage 1 hypertension
If your systolic blood pressure is 130 to 139 mm Hgor your diastolic blood pressure is 80 to 89 mm Hg, its considered stage 1 hypertension.
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How Blood Pressure Is Measured
A doctor or nurse will measure your blood pressure with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff. Itâs simple and painless.
The person taking your blood pressure wraps the cuff around your upper arm. Some cuffs go around the forearm or wrist, but often they arenât as accurate.
Your doctor or nurse will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood moving through your artery.
TheyÃ¢ll inflate the cuff to a pressure higher than your systolic blood pressure, and it will tighten around your arm. Then theyÃ¢ll release it. As the cuff deflates, the first sound they hear through the stethoscope is the systolic blood pressure. It sounds like a whooshing noise. The point where this noise goes away marks the diastolic blood pressure.
In a blood pressure reading, the systolic number always comes first, and then the diastolic number. For example, your numbers may be â120 over 80â or written as 120/80.
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Can I Take A Blood Pressure Reading Measurement During Exercise
Omron blood pressure monitors are NOT intended for use during exercise or activity. We recommend that you avoid eating, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages, smoking, bathing and exercising for at least 30 minutes before taking a measurement. It is also best to rest for 15 minutes before starting the measurement.
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Get Regular Blood Pressure Checks
If your blood pressure is in the healthy range and you have no other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and no personal or family history of high blood pressure, it is still important to have a check at least every two years. Your doctor can also check your blood pressure during routine visits.
If your blood pressure is highnormal , or if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack, it is best to have it checked more frequently such as every 6 to 12 months or as directed by your doctor. Ask your doctor for advice.
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Digital Blood Pressure Monitors
Digital blood pressure monitors are often used on the wrist, but they can also be placed on the finger or upper arm and are activated simply by pressing a button. They read the blood pressure automatically based on variations in the volume of blood in the arteries. When taking blood pressure measurements on the wrist, it’s important to keep the hand level with the heart. Otherwise it can affect the readings.
Digital meters can sometimes be inaccurate and produce unreliable readings anyway especially in people with certain heart rhythm problems or arteries that have hardened due to arteriosclerosis.
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How To Accurately Measure Blood Pressure At Home
Please note: This article was published more than two years ago, so some information may be outdated. If you have questions about your health, always contact a health care professional.
High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for heart attack and stroke. It’s also common among people who develop severe COVID-19 symptoms.
So, with more people at home practicing social distancing and with fewer chances to check blood pressure at public pharmacy machines or doctor visits, it’s more important than ever to know how to do it at home.
How do I select a home blood pressure monitor?
“The readings you get at home are really important, because they reflect the pressure your heart is facing on a day-to-day basis,” said Dr. Michael Hochman, a doctor of internal medicine at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California.
A list of validated home monitors, the first in the United States and commissioned to meet the American Medical Association’s criteria, is available at validateBP.org. The Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society and the European Society of Hypertension also certify devices.
The device should measure blood pressure on the upper arm, which produce a more reliable result than those that measure from the wrist.
Many devices are automated. Simply put on the cuff and press a button. The results are displayed digitally.
Your health care provider should check the device about once a year to ensure its accuracy.
Factors That Can Affect Your Readings
There are a few general rules to be aware of when it comes to timing your blood pressure reading.
For example, its not a good idea to take your blood pressure immediately after you wake up, as this may not give you the most accurate reading. Instead, aim to check it when youve been up for about half an hour.
Its also best not to wait until after breakfast and your morning coffee since both food and caffeine can raise your blood pressure. Ideally, a morning blood pressure can be taken after you brush your teeth, shower, and get dressed but before you eat or leave for work.
Food and caffeine arent the only things that can cause your blood pressure to spike. There are several other everyday things that can make your blood pressure rise.
No matter what time of day you take your blood pressure, its best to avoid these things for at least half an hour before you take a reading:
- smoking or using tobacco
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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.
Do I Need To Use A Blood Pressure Checker
You may not need a blood pressure checker for every reading, but it will help manage blood pressure health. As you become familiar with your readings, using a blood pressure checker will advise how to improve and maintain healthy blood pressure.
The blood pressure calculator can be accessed via desktop, tablet or mobile.
If you have questions about taking blood pressure or using the blood pressure checker, contact us. If you are concerned about your reading after using this blood pressure calculator or any other blood pressure checker, seek medical advice.
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Measuring Your Blood Pressure
Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury and is given as 2 numbers:
- systolic pressure the pressure when your heart pushes blood out
- diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats
The highest number is always the systolic pressure and it’s always given first. For example, a blood pressure given as “120 over 80” or 120/80mmHg means a systolic pressure of 120mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80mmHg.
As a general guide:
- normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
- high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
- low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
If your reading is between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg, you may be at risk of developing high blood pressure. There are things you can do to help prevent high blood pressure.
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How To Use A Blood Pressure Cuff
There are many reasons why you may need to use a blood pressure cuff at home. Your doctor might request that you use one to check to see if you have white coat syndrome, which causes a persons blood pressure to rise when they are in a clinical setting. If youre dealing with a definite high blood pressure problem, you may need to use a blood pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure from home and alert a professional if there is ever an issue.
If you dont have any previous experience of operating a blood pressure cuff yourself, dont worry its pretty simple. Heres a step-by-step on everything you need to do to take your blood pressure reading at home:
How Are Blood Pressure Levels Categorized
There are four blood pressure categories:
- Normal blood pressure: Systolic below 120 and diastolic below 80 mm Hg
- Prehypertension: Systolic between 120-139 and diastolic between 80-89 mm Hg
- Stage I hypertension: Systolic between 140-159 and diastolic between 90-99 mm Hg
- Stage II hypertension: Systolic above 160 and diastolic above 100 mm Hg
Monitoring your blood pressure levels can help you prevent or delay the onset of high blood pressure and related health problems. If you notice that your blood pressure readings are getting higher, talk to your doctor. They can help you set goals and recommend lifestyle changes that can help you get the numbers back down and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
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How Do Health Care Professionals Measure My Blood Pressure
First, a health care professional wraps an inflatable cuff around your arm. The health care professional then inflates the cuff, which gently tightens on your arm. The cuff has a gauge on it that will measure your blood pressure.
The health care professional will slowly let air out of the cuff while listening to your pulse with a stethoscope and watching the gauge. This process is quick and painless. If using a digital or automatic blood pressure cuff, the health care professional will not need to use a stethoscope.
The gauge uses a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury to measure the pressure in your blood vessels.
If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care team about steps to take to control your blood pressure to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Use this list of questions to ask your health care team pdf icon to help you manage your blood pressure.
What Is The Correct Way To Measure Blood Pressure
Learn the correct way to have your blood pressure taken, whether youre getting it checked at the doctors office or checking it yourself at home. Use this checklist:
- Dont eat or drink anything 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure.
- Empty your bladder before your reading.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes before your reading.
- Put both feet flat on the ground and keep your legs uncrossed.
- Rest your arm with the cuff on a table at chest height.
- Make sure the blood pressure cuff is snug but not too tight. The cuff should be against your bare skin, not over clothing.
- Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured.
If you are keeping track of your blood pressure at home, use these additional tips.
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How Is Blood Pressure Measured
It’s important to measure blood pressure more than once because it fluctuates over the course of the day. It can also change due to things like physical exertion, stress, pain, or extreme heat or cold. But this kind of increase in blood pressure is only temporary and it soon returns to normal.
So, if blood pressure is measured just once and found to be high, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always too high. A blood pressure reading taken at the doctors office can also be misleading: Going to the doctor makes some people so nervous that their blood pressure goes up.
So to get reliable readings, blood pressure is measured on several different days and while you are resting. This means sitting down and relaxing on a chair, and waiting about three minutes before taking a measurement so that your circulatory system comes to rest. The upper arm that is being used for the measurement should rest on a table, at about the same height as the heart, while the reading is being done.
You can measure your blood pressure on your own using a digital blood pressure monitor for automated readings or an instrument called a sphygmomanometer for manual readings.