What Is Diastolic Blood Pressure
The heart rests between beats so it can refill with blood. Doctors call this pause between beats “diastole.” Your diastolic blood pressure is the measurement during this pause before the next heartbeat.
A normal diastolic blood pressure during quiet rest is 80 mmHg or a little below. If you have high blood pressure, the diastolic number is often higher even during quiet rest.
Low diastolic pressure may be seen with dehydration or with severe bleeding. It also may happen if the arteries relax and widen.
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.
Measuring Your Blood Pressure
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Preventing High Blood Pressure
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.
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.
How To Take A Correct Blood Pressure Reading According To The New Controversial Guidelines
In hopes of finally changing the status quo and reducing cardiovascular diseases 2017 guidelines, published by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association , just broadened the definition of hypertension.
For the first time ever, hypertension is now diagnosed at systolic blood pressures of 130 mmHg or higher, rather than 140 mmHg. This change means that an additional 31 million adults in the US are now considered hypertensive, and 4 million of these people qualify for medication to lower their blood pressure.
This also means accurate blood pressure measurement is more important than ever to identify and treat those at risk. To address this, the guidelines for doctors are clear: They recommend using automated blood pressure devices , averaging multiple readings, and measuring blood pressure outside of the clinic , which, for most patients, can help increase the accuracy of blood pressure readings.
But most important is following correct technique when measuring blood pressure using a manual blood pressure device, for which the new US guidelines include a nearly 19-step checklist. Here are some of the other checklist items to follow before your doctor or nurse takes your blood pressure:
For many years, blood pressure guidelines have recommended an average of two or more blood pressure readings on two or more occasions to get a correct measurement. They underscored that recommendation in the new guidelines, Whelton said.
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What Is Normal Blood Pressure And When Is Blood Pressure Considered To Be High
Blood pressure is always measured on a number of different days and when you are at rest. If several of these measurements are too high, you are said to have high blood pressure, even if only one of the two either the systolic or the diastolic one is high. The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. In adults, blood pressure is considered to be normal under a systolic value of 140 mmHg and under a diastolic value of 90 mmHg.
When taking your blood pressure for the first time, it makes sense to measure the blood pressure in both arms, because it’s sometimes high on only one side. The values that are higher are always the ones used for assessing blood pressure. After that it is enough to measure the blood pressure only in the arm that produced the higher reading. A person is considered to have high blood pressure if the systolic value is over 140 mmHg, the diastolic value is over 90 mmHg, or if both are higher than these readings.
Table: Normal and high blood pressure readings
|systolic over 140 mmHg and/or diastolic over 90 mmHg|
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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How The Test Is Performed
Sit in a chair with your back supported. Your legs should be uncrossed, and your feet on the floor.
Your arm should be supported so that your upper arm is at heart level. Roll up your sleeve so that your arm is bare. Be sure the sleeve is not bunched up and squeezing your arm. If it is, take your arm out of the sleeve, or remove the shirt entirely.
You or your provider will wrap the blood pressure cuff snugly around your upper arm. The lower edge of the cuff should be 1 inch above the bend of your elbow.
- The cuff will be inflated quickly. This is done either by pumping the squeeze bulb or pushing a button on the device. You will feel tightness around your arm.
- Next, the valve of the cuff is opened slightly, allowing the pressure to slowly fall.
- As the pressure falls, the reading when the sound of blood pulsing is first heard is recorded. This is the systolic pressure.
- As the air continues to be let out, the sounds will disappear. The point at which the sound stops is recorded. This is the diastolic pressure.
Inflating the cuff too slowly or not inflating it to a high enough pressure may cause a false reading. If you loosen the valve too much, you will not be able to measure your blood pressure.
The procedure may be done two or more times.
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.
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Why Doctors Often Fail To Take Correct Blood Pressure Readings
Theres a whole slew of things health professionals are supposed to do to get accurate blood pressure readings, many of which are performed correctly: placing the cuff at the right location around your arm, holding your arm at the level of your heart, using a stethoscope to listen to the pulse, and making sure there is no clothing on your arm.
But other steps that require more time often get overlooked. These include making sure that you sit in a chair and relax for at least five minutes before the measurement, that you have an empty bladder, and repeating the process for a second measurement one or two minutes later.
Whelton thinks one big reason physicians havent done a good job of measuring blood pressure is that they are stretched in many directions and not incentivizedto aim for precision. So I dont think there is anything malicious about it, but assume, in many instances, theyre doing a great job, Whelton said.
In my own experience as a medical student, Ive noticed that taking blood pressure correctly is indeed a luxury of time and despite their best intentions, overworked doctors are often too crunched and too distracted to bother with correct technique.
What Do The Results Mean
Your results, also known as a blood pressure reading, will contain two numbers. The top or first number is the systolic pressure. The bottom or second number is the diastolic pressure. High blood pressure readings are also labeled by categories, ranging from normal to crisis. Your reading may show your blood pressure is:
|Blood Pressure Category|
|and||120 or higher|
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes and/or medicines to control your blood pressure. Your provider may also recommend that you regularly check your blood pressure at home with an automated blood pressure monitor. An at-home blood pressure monitor usually includes a blood pressure cuff and a digital device to record and display blood pressure readings.
Home monitoring is not a replacement for regular visits to your provider. But it can provide important information, such as whether treatment is working or your condition may have worsened. Also, home monitoring may make the test less stressful. Many people get nervous about getting their blood pressure taken at a provider’s office. This is called “white coat syndrome.” It can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, making the results less accurate. For more information about home monitoring of blood pressure, talk to your provider.
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Complications Of High Blood Pressure
Untreated or poorly managed high blood pressure can cause serious and even life threatening issues. It can damage your blood vessels as well as your organs. The longer your hypertension goes untreated, the more it can damage your body and affect your health.
Potential complications of high blood pressure include:
Diagnosing The Cause Of Low Blood Pressure
The first key to know how to raise low blood pressure is to detect what causes the problem in the first place. This is something which should only be done by a doctor as they will not only be able to determine major illnesses or underlying conditions, but advise on the most effective course of treatment. The best medical professional to see will be an arterial hypotension specialist as they should have the most comprehensive knowledge on the subject.
However, raising low blood pressure is also about stopping certain actions which might lower blood pressure. This is why we have some general recommendations to help keep a healthy blood pressure level until a specialist can make confirmation of a diagnosis. Until then, keeping an eye on the symptoms and making sure you are not in need of emergency care is important. If you are, then you will need to see a doctor right away.
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Canada Led The Way With Better Methods Of Measuring Blood Pressure
Just because the blood pressure status quo hasnt been improving lately doesnt mean it wont and the Canadian example is instructive here.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Canada was far behind the US in terms of properly diagnosing and managing hypertension. During that time, only 13 percent of Canadians with hypertension reached their blood pressure target, while this number was 25 percent in the US. Today, Canada isrecognized as the world leader in lowering blood pressure, with 68 percent of hypertensive patients who have their blood pressure under control.
While there are many differences between Canada and the US that could account for this gap, its worth noting that Canada embraced alternative forms of blood pressure measurement early on, like taking measurements outside of the doctors office with automated devices.
Canada was one of the first to recommend out-of-office blood pressure measures, said Dr. Nadia Khan, president of Hypertension Canada, the not-for-profit group responsible for blood pressure guidelines in Canada. Out-of-office measures are much better at predicting future cardiovascular events than office blood pressures.
The new US guidelines say much the same, which is one reason why, Khan remarked, the US is moving closer to the Canadian approach.
Dylan Collins is a medical student at the University of British Columbia, and holds a PhD from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. You can find him on Twitter .
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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Recommended Blood Pressure Monitors
Williams B, Giuseppe M, Spiering W, et al. . 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension. Journal of Hypertension, 36. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000001940
Bupa . High blood pressure. Retrieved from www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/heart-blood-circulation/high-blood-pressure-hypertension
Blood Pressure Association . Blood pressure chart. Retrieved from www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Thebasics/Bloodpressurechart
Best For People With Smaller Arms: Lifesource Blood Pressure Monitor With Small Cuff
This LifeSource monitor is specifically designed with a cuff for smaller arms. The cuff fits arms between 6.3 and 9.4 inches around, which the brand notes is perfect for petite and small-framed people.
The monitor and cuff are clinically validated for accuracy and the entire system operates off one button with a large digital screen. Additionally, this monitor and cuff combo is FSA eligible and can store 90 readings right on the device with a date and time stamp to make logging and recording easy. One thing to note is that you will need to use this monitor with its AC adaptor it doesn’t offer battery power.
Also, you’ll want to keep in mind that, according to the American Heart Association, a cuff that’s too small could give you an inaccurately high reading, so it’s a good idea to measure your arm and check with your doctor that you are using the right size.
âBuy itâ: âPriceâ: $55
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Foods To Raise Blood Pressure
It is important to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables to improve the state of your blood pressure. These foods contain beneficial nutrients and vitamins, but also help to keep you hydrated. If your blood pressure has dropped due to an iron deficiencysuch as anemia you should increase your intake of lean red meats and legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans.
While too much sodium will have a detrimental effect on your blood pressure, it can help raise it when low. Eating salty snacks such as peanuts or chips can help give you a quick spike in blood pressure levels. One home remedy for raising low blood pressure is to drink an isotonic drink which will help raise your sodium levels with healthy salts. However, be careful not to drink too much of them or it can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
These recommendations and homemade remedies can help you avoid drops in blood pressure and improve your circulation. However none of them are a replacement for a doctor’s advice. Consult a doctor to ascertain the right reasons behind your low blood pressure and they will best be able to help you with your problem. They may also be able to see if this is an underlying condition which requires some more aggressive treatment or lifestyles changes.
Go to the doctor to find the underlying cause especially if you also have the following symptoms:
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.
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