How To Use A Sphygmomanometer To Measure Blood Pressure
Knowing how to use a sphygmomanometer to properly check blood pressure is important.
The pandemic and the forced lockdown meant that sales of sphygmomanometers for home use soured during 2020. I have reviewed some of the best for clinical and home use here.
The bottom line is, more people are using sphygmomanometers to test their own blood pressure and more questions are arising on exactly how to use them.
So thats what we look into today. Ill take it step by step, however.
First, well look at what a Sphygmomanometer is, how it works, and how to use it. Most important of all, well cover what the readings actually mean.
So if youre ready, lets jump in.
What Else Do I Need To Know
- Do not take a BP reading in an arm that is injured or has an IV or shunt.
- Take your BP medicines as directed. Do not stop taking your medicines if your BP is at your goal. A BP at your goal means your medicine is working correctly.
- Bring the BP machine to your follow-up visit. Your healthcare provider can check that you are using it correctly.
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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What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing on the walls of your arteries. Your BP results are written as 2 numbers. The first, or top, number is called systolic BP. This is the pressure caused by your heart pushing blood out to your body. The second, or bottom, number is called diastolic BP. This is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills back up with blood. Ask your healthcare provider what your BP should be. For most people, a good BP goal is less than 120/80.
Preparing To Check Your Blood Pressure
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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 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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What Is A Sphygmomanometer
A sphygmomanometer is a small instrument that measures blood pressure.
There are various components to the Sphygmomanometer. One part is an inflatable rubber cuff, which wraps around the patients arm.
Connected to the cuff is a measuring device that will show the cuffs pressure as the reading is taken.
A third component is a small bulb that is used to inflate the cuff.
Finally, a release valve is used to allow air to escape the cuff.
A stethoscope is also used to listen to arterial blood flow sounds as the cuff is applied to the patient.
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.
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How To Take Blood Pressure Video
how to take blood pressure video
Disclaimer : All information on Highbloodpressuremed.com is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, please consult your doctor. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site
How To Take Orthostatic Blood Pressure
Orthostatic hypotension is a medical term for the decrease in systolic and diastolic pressure withing three minutes of the pactient standing as compared with blood pressure taken while sitted. For taking orthistatic blood pressure using a cuff you will have to follow the steps ennuerated above, but also repeat the reading after standing 3 minutes. Dont forget about the pulse rate measurements too.
It is also important to:
- Take your blood pressure twice a day first in the morning, before breakfast but never right after you wake up and then in the evening. Compare the measurements to see how your blood pressure fluctuates after a day of work.
- Always record you readings and inform your doctor on the values you get. From time to time pay his or her a visit and check your measurements against theirs.
Learn that there are various ways to check your blood pressure at home. Now that you have discovered the essential steps concerning how to take blood pressure with cuff correctly, lets take a look at less popular or even unefficient ways to do it.
- How to take blood pressure with fingers
Unlike the popular belief that blood pressure can be determined by using your fingers, such measurement is totally inneffectual. On the other hand, you can use your fingers to check your pulse. Place your first and second fingertips on your arteries and as soon as you have felt your pulse begin counting the beats for 60 seconds.
- How to take blood pressure on leg
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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.
Common Blood Pressure Measurement Errors:
- Bladder cuff too narrow or wide
- Limb being assessed is unsupported
- Insufficient rest before the assessment
- Repeating the assessment too quickly
- Cuff not wrapped tightly and evenly
- Deflating the cuff to quickly
- Deflating the cuff too slowly
- Failure to use the same site for consistency
- Limb being assessed is measured while above their heart level.
- Berman, A et al. 2015, Kozier and Erb’s fundamentals of nursing. Pearson Australia Melbourne, Victoria.
- Estes, MEZ., Calleja, P., Theobald, K. & Harvey, T. 2013, Health assessment and physical examination: Australian & New Zealand ed. Cengage Learning Australia South Melbourne, Victoria.
- Tollefson, J. & Hillman, E. 2018. Clinical Psychomotor Skills. 7th ed. Cengage Learning Australia South Melbourne, Victoria.
- Wake, D. 2017, ‘How to Take Blood Pressure’, Ausmed.
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How Often Should You Measure Your Blood Pressure
When and how often you take your readings will depend on your blood pressure. Speak to your doctor or nurse about whats suitable for you.
It can be useful to monitor your blood pressure closely to begin with, then less often but at regular intervals.
When you first start using your home monitor
When you first start using a home monitor, measure your blood pressure in the morning and evening, every day for a week.
Take three readings in the morning, one to two minutes apart, and the same again in the evening, and record all the readings. Take an average of the readings, but discard the first one if its much higher than the others. To take an average simply add the two readings together and divide by two. Divide by three if you use all three readings.
Ignore the first days readings altogether, because they might not be accurate as youre not familiar with your monitor yet.
At the end of the week you will have a useful picture of what your blood pressure is normally like.
Your doctor might ask you to keep a record like this when they first think you might have high blood pressure and would like to know more before making a .
After the first week
Once you have a record of your blood pressure over a week, you can take readings less often once every one to two weeks perhaps. Your doctor or nurse can talk to you about this, theres no need to measure it too often.
Why You Should Take Action
The number of hypertension-related deaths in the United States increased by 66 percent over the past decade, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To put that in perspective, the number of deaths from all other causes combined increased only 3.5 percent during that period.
The AMAs Improving Health Outcomes initiative is taking steps to reverse this trend. Through this initiative, the AMA and participating physicians and care teams are working with researchers at the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality and the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities to develop and test evidence-based blood pressure recommendations and provide practical tools for physician practices.
- Free access to JAMA Network and CME
- Save hundreds on insurance
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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.
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How To Take Blood Pressure Properly
According to the self measurement of blood pressure method it is recommended that you measure it three times a day for 3 days before the visit to your doctor to assess the evolution: Right upon waking up before breakfast and taking medication, before lunch, before dinner. In this article we will teach you which the right steps to take the blood pressure with greater reliability are. The most important element to take blood pressure is a sphygmomanometer. In this OneHowTo article, we show you exactly how to take blood pressure.
Take it on the left or right arm and . Unless your doctor or nurse specifically tells you to take one or the other.
The first blood pressure measurement must be the first thing in the morning upon waking. This measurment is important because you are completely at rest. Thus, none of the pressure is due to exercise or daily activities.
Blood pressure should always be measured before taking any medication, we must choose a suitable place for taking blood pressure. It should be quiet with a table that allows us to put everything you need and clearly see the screen of your device.
Obese people need to buy a larger cuff. Once well positioned begin to measure blood pressure, activating our meter.
This process must be repeated 3 times leaving a rest period of about 2 minutes. When we have three blood pressure results, you have a good idea of what your blood pressure reading is.
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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