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.
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.
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
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Low Systolic Blood Pressure
If the systolic blood pressure is lower than normal, it’s called hypotension. If this low blood pressure is serious enough, it can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting. If it lasts long enough and it isn’t treated, it may cause organs like your kidneys to start shutting down.
Systolic hypotension can occur if the amount of blood in your body becomes too low. This can happen if you are severely dehydrated or you have major bleeding there just isn’t enough blood to push through the body.
Sometimes this low blood pressure happens when you change positions suddenly. You may feel dizzy when you stand up because gravity is pulling blood down toward your feet. This is a common condition called orthostatic hypotension.
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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.
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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.
Why Do I Need A Blood Pressure Test
A blood pressure measurement is often included as part of a regular checkup. Adults 18 years and older should have their blood pressure measured at least once every two to five years. You should get tested every year if you have certain risk factors. You may be at higher risk if you:
- Are 40 years old or older
- Are overweight or have obesity
- Are Black/African American. Black/African Americans have a higher rate of high blood pressure than other racial and ethnic groups
You may need this test if you have symptoms of low blood pressure.
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How To Properly Measure Blood Pressure
Blood pressure should be measured in a resting state, with the arm positioned roughly at the same height as the heart. To ensure reliable values, two measurements should be taken over a span of five minutes and then the average of the two readings calculated. Because blood pressure fluctuates over the course of the day, it should always be measured at the same time of day.
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How Can I Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctors office or hospitalusually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.
Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they dont use SMBP.3
Use these additional tips for SMBP:4
- Use a blood pressure log pdf icon to record your blood pressure measurements.
- Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
- Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.
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.
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Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges
Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
|SYSTOLIC mm Hg||and/or||DIASTOLIC mm Hg|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 1||130 139|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 2||140 OR HIGHER|
|HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS||HIGHER THAN 180||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.
Blood Pressure Unit Means:
- A measuring device.
- A discrete place in a hospital or clinic called the Blood Pressure Unit where blood pressure is treated or researched.
- A unit of measurement of blood pressure.
Well discus all these.
A Measuring Device
Measuring devices, called sphygmomanometers, come in three basic types:
- Mercury column: These employ a column of liquid mercury to balance and indicate the pressure exerted in the cuff. They enjoy the advantage of being the most accurate but are the heaviest and most bulky of the portable units. Responsible for establishing our basic blood pressure unit.
Modern units are better and when the operator pays appropriate attention to these factors they are tops in ease of use and convenience.Please see these two pages of this site for more detailed information: Blood Pressure Monitor and Home Blood Pressure Monitors
Blood Pressure Unit
Blood Pressure Unit of Measurement
Doctor’s Practical Guide:
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How Do I Get An Accurate Blood Pressure Reading
Once youve chosen a validated blood pressure monitor that fits your needs, youll still need to take an accurate reading with it. The best way to learn is to bring it with you to your next doctors visit, so your doctor can show you how to use it correctly. In general, these are good things to keep in mind when measuring your blood pressure at home:
Sit in a chair with a firm back, keeping your back straight and your legs flat on the ground and uncrossed.
Rest for 5 minutes or more before measuring your blood pressure.
Keep your arm at heart level and on a flat surface such as a table.
Place the blood pressure cuff around your arm so that its touching your skin. Do not put the cuff over clothing.
Take two measurements at least 1 minute apart in the morning before taking medications, and take two measurements at least 1 minute apart in the evening before supper. Be sure to do this at the same times each day. Your doctor may also ask you to take additional measurements depending on your specific health concerns.
If youve been exercising and need a measurement of your normal blood pressure, rest for at least 30 minutes before taking your reading.
Do not smoke or drink caffeinated beverages like coffee, soda, or tea if youre planning to take a blood pressure reading in the next 30 minutes.
Other helpful resources
What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure refers to how hard the blood is pushing against the wall of arteries these can be thought of as the pipes that deliver blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
This pressure is necessary for the blood to flow. Using a plumbing analogy, imagine the effect of a drop in water pressure to water flow from the garden hose.
Blood pressure naturally varies throughout the day depending on posture, activity and stress. It can also be elevated or lowered as a consequence of illness or disease.
Stephen Hales, an 18th-century English clergyman and scientist, first measured the blood pressure of animals in a series of experiments that involved inserting tubes into their arteries. In one experiment with a horse, he describes the blood rising to eight feet in height in the tube!
Blood pressure measurement would almost certainly be unpopular if it involved inserting long glass tubes into people. Happily, Italian physician Scipione Riva-Rocci developed the conventional sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure meter, in 1896.
Soon afterwards, Russian physician Nikolai Korotkoff discovered the sounds that can be heard with a stethoscope over the inner elbow while using a sphygmomanometer. His technique remains the standard method for measuring blood pressure today.
The second number is the diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure when the heart is relaxing and is refilling with blood.
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Digital Blood Pressure Measurement
Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the wall of any blood vessel. The blood pressure measurement is written in numbers. The systolic blood pressure is the top number. The diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number .
- The systolic blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the artery walls when the heart contracts .
- The diastolic blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the artery walls between heartbeats, when the heart relaxes.
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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What Does My Blood Pressure Reading Mean
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you may have something called prehypertension. This means that you are at risk for high blood pressure.
|High blood pressure: Stage 2||160 or higher||100 or over|
*If you have diabetes or kidney disease, high blood pressure ranges may be lower than for other people. Or, if you are older than 65, goal blood pressure may be higher. Talk to your doctor about what is considered high blood pressure for you.
Medications For High Blood Pressure
There is a large variety of medicines available to lower and manage high blood pressure. Your doctor may call them antihypertensives, .
These medications do not cure high blood pressure, but they do help manage it. Once you start to take medicines to manage your blood pressure, you may need to take them for the rest of your life. However, the dose of these medicines may change over time.
If you need to take medication, your doctor will advise you on the correct type and dose. Two or more different medications are often needed to manage blood pressure.
Make sure you take your medicines regularly. Some things that may help you remember to take them include:
- Building them into your daily routine by taking them at the same time each day.
- Keeping them somewhere that will remind you such as next to your alarm, or with your coffee or tea.
- Using a weekly pill box.
- Asking a family member or friend to remind you.
- Always carrying a list of your medicines and their doses with you.
- Entering a daily alarm in your mobile phone or download an app to remind you.
Take any blood pressure medicine exactly as prescribed. Dont stop or change your medicine, unless your doctor advises you to.
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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.
|Normal blood pressure||systolic under 140 mmHg and diastolic under 90 mmHg|
|High blood pressure||systolic over 140 mmHg and/or diastolic over 90 mmHg|
What Do Those Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury . It is shown using 2 numbers, one over the other. The top numbersystolic pressuremeasures the blood pressure as the heart beats. The bottom numberdiastolic pressuremeasures the blood pressure as the heart relaxes between beats. Together, they give your doctor a reading of the force of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels. If this reading is high, your blood pressure is likely uncontrolled.
Normal blood pressure is a reading of less than 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. About 25% of the U.S. population is currently considered to be “pre-hypertensive,” which means their systolic blood pressure is between 120 and 139 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
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