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What Is Blood Pressure Reading

How Blood Pressure Is Measured

What is a normal blood pressure reading?

A doctor or nurse will measure your blood pressure with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff. It’s 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 aren’t as accurate.

Your doctor or nurse will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood moving through your artery.

Theyâll inflate the cuff to a pressure higher than your systolic blood pressure, and it will tighten around your arm. Then theyâll 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 “120 over 80” or written as 120/80.

What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure

The only way you can know for sure if you have high blood pressure is by having a nurse or doctor measure it. Monitoring your blood pressure at home also helps keep your blood pressure in check. Most often, high blood pressure is “silent,” meaning it has no other signs to warn you, according to the CDC.

How Blood Pressure Is Tested

A;device called a sphygmomanometer will be used to measure your blood pressure.

This usually consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial, although automatic devices that;use sensors and have a digital display are also commonly used nowadays.

It’s best to sit down with your back supported and legs uncrossed for the test. You’ll usually need to roll up your sleeves or remove any long-sleeved clothing, so the cuff can be placed around your upper arm. Try to relax and avoid talking while the test is carried out.

During the test:

  • you hold out one of your arms so it’s at the same level as your heart, and the cuff is placed around it your arm should be supported in this position, such as with a cushion or arm of a chair
  • the cuff is pumped up to restrict the blood flow in your arm; this squeezing may feel a bit uncomfortable, but only lasts a few seconds
  • the pressure in the cuff;is;slowly released;while;a;stethoscope is used to listen to;your;pulse
  • the pressure in the cuff is recorded at 2 points as the blood flow starts to return to your arm these measurements are used to give your blood pressure reading

You can usually find out your result straight away, either from the healthcare professional carrying out the test;or on;the digital display.

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Does Normal Blood Pressure Change With Age

Just as our blood pressure readings change according to our posture, sleep time, and stress levels throughout the day, our blood pressure changes as we age. Despite the fluctuating or changing measurements, we should maintain a normal range. As we age, we can expect changes in our cardiovascular health, including our blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There are several factors that reflect our blood pressure levels over the years, including normal blood pressure for seniors.

Blood Pressure Reading Chart

Learning to Take an Accurate Blood Pressure Reading

Below is a blood pressure reading chart for you.

*Remember that the larger figure in your reading represents the systolic value; the smaller figure represents your diastolic value. Systolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is beating. Diastolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is resting.

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What Does Blood Pressure Tell You

Blood pressure measures the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, or blood vessels. Your heart pumps blood into your arteries. And the arteries carry that blood to the rest of your body.

The top number of your blood pressure reading tells you the force of the blood against artery walls when your heart beats. It is called systolic pressure. The bottom number tells you what your blood pressure is when your heart is at rest between heartbeats. It is called diastolic pressure.

When Is Your Blood Pressure Dangerously High

A blood pressure reading of over 180/120 is dangerously high. Doctors call this a hypertensive crisis, and it requires immediate treatment. Call your closest medical centre to understand what steps you need to follow to get the treatment you need.

All this can be summarised in a blood pressure chart, like this:

To check your blood pressure against the chart, start from your systolic pressure on the left-hand side, and move your finger to the right until you reach your diastolic pressure. The colour will tell you whether you have normal or abnormal blood pressure.

References:

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

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The Blood Pressure Cuff

When it comes to the cuff, you are Goldilocks and it has to fit just right. If its too loose, you could get falsely low blood pressure readings; if its too tight, your reading might be inaccurately higher. If the cuff feels too tight before its blown up, you know its too tight. If its falling off, you know its too big, says Dr. Goldberg.

Normal Blood Pressure For Children

What is a Normal Blood Pressure Reading?

Normal BP ranges vary in children by age. The University of Iowa Stead Family Childrens Hospital provides this chart:

Normal Blood Pressure for Children
Systolic
112128 mm Hg 6680 mm Hg

What is considered healthy for your child also varies by height, age, and sex. You can use Baylor;College of Medicine’s calculator to see if your childs blood pressure reading is in a healthy range.

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Does High Blood Pressure Increase Heart Rate

Heart rate and blood pressure do not necessarily increase at the same rate. A rising heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. Even though your heart is beating more times a minute, healthy blood vessels dilate to allow more blood to flow through more easily. When you exercise, your heart speeds up so more blood can reach your muscles. It may be possible for your heart rate to double safely, while your blood pressure may respond by only increasing a modest amount.

How To Lower Blood Pressure

If you’re over 70 and have been told that your blood pressure is too high, don’t let the condition’s lack of symptoms keep you from working to get it into a healthy range. Make it a point to:

Review all your medications with your doctor.“Many people will need medication to manage their blood pressure,” Andromalos says. But be sure to tell your doctor about all other prescriptions you may have and any over-the-counter medications that you take, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or decongestants because they can raise your blood pressure, Dr. Vaishnava says.

Move more. Regular, moderate exercise can help you lower your blood pressure, the Mayo Clinic states. Find an activity you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it cycling, walking, swimming or dancing, for instance. Strength training and high intensity interval training also can help lower your blood pressure.

Lose weight. The higher your body mass, the harder your heart has to work to pump critical blood. Losing even a small amount of weight can help lower your blood pressure, the Mayo Clinic states.

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How To Use A Home Blood Pressure Monitor

  • Be still. Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least 5 minutes of quiet rest before measurements.
  • Sit correctly.Sit with your back straight and supported . Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the bottom of the cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow. Check your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or have your healthcare provider show you how.
  • Measure at the same time every day. Its important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening. It is best to take the readings daily however ideally beginning 2 weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.
  • Take multiple readings and record the results. Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results using a tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
  • Don’t take the measurement over clothes.
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.

More Than Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Readings Explained

The new guidelines have other changes, too. First, they don’t offer different recommendations for people younger or older than age 65. “This is because the SPRINT study looked at all patients regardless of age and didn’t break down groups above or below a certain age,” says Dr. Conlin.

The guidelines also redefined the various categories of hypertension. It eliminated the category of prehypertension, which had been defined as systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg. Instead, people with those readings are now categorized as having either elevated pressure or Stage 1 hypertension .

A reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered Stage 2 hypertension, and anything higher than 180/120 mm Hg is hypertensive crisis.

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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 .

What Is Normal Blood Pressure According To Age

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. Its measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second is measured before the heart contracts and the lowest.;A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called “hypertension“.

The chart shows normal blood pressure according to age both male and female.; Diastolic blood pressure and Systolic Blood Pressure are included in the chart.

Normal Blood Pressure By Age

Age

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Why Does Blood Pressure Increase With Age

Doctors dont completely understand why blood pressure tends to rise with age. Blood pressure is the force of blood as it flows through the arteries. As you age, your arteries may narrow and become stiff. Narrow arteries lead to an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage the walls of the arteries and the heart itself.

In some cases, high blood pressure could be a result of lifestyle, the environment, certain medications, or other conditions such as sleep apnea, kidney disease, or thyroid problems.

Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Facts : What Is a Low Blood Pressure Reading?

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it typically has no symptoms. In fact, most people dont even realize they have hypertension until their blood pressure is monitored.

Symptoms dont develop until the numbers get very high and organs get damaged, often irreversibly, says Dr. Desai.

If you have severe hypertension, you might notice the below symptoms, some of which were reported by patients in a study in the British Journal of General PracticeGoodhart A. Hypertension from the patients perspective. British Journal of General Practice. 2016;66:570. :

  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate

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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.

What Are The Treatments For High Blood Pressure

Treatments for high blood pressure include heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines.

You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.

If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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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.

How You Hold Your Arm

What do blood pressure readings mean?

If your arm isnt supported, blood pressure readings can get messed up. Your arm should be flat on a table or supported by the person taking your pressure, it shouldnt just be hanging in the air, says Dr. Goldberg. If your arm is too high or low, it can affect how hard your heart has to pump to keep blood flowing, which then affects your blood pressure.

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Why Wrong: Reading Blood Pressure Basics

Blood pressure is usually read when you are in the sitting position. There should be back support if seated.

Blood pressure readings should be taken when the person is relaxed and not right after any stressful events or stressful news.

It should be taken in the upper arm and at the level of the heart.

They should not be talking when the blood pressure is being taken.

Smoking, exercise or drinking caffeinated beverages within 30 minutes before their blood pressure reading can give a wrong reading.

The standard of care is to take the first blood pressure reading. If it is above normal, two more measurements are to be taken. The standard requires the measurements be separated by 2 minutes. Most health care workers do not wait the prerequisite 2 minutes.

If measurements are still elevated, your health care provider should take blood pressure readings from both arms.

An additional measurement may be taken once the patient has been laying, sitting and standing for 2 minutes.

Exercise For People With Low Blood Pressure

Also check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program if you have low blood pressure . Exercise especially exercise that involves sudden changes in posture can trigger symptoms, including dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea.

That doesnt mean you shouldnt exercise if you have low blood pressure. In fact, exercise can also be beneficial in treating hypotension, as it helps improve blood circulation.

If you have low blood pressure, opt for moderate activities that dont involve bending and rising quickly to an upright position.

A spike or drop in blood pressure during exercise can be a sign of a medical condition.

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