Having A Blood Pressure Test
A stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial was normally used to measure your blood pressure, but automatic devices with sensors and digital displays are commonly used nowadays.
It’s best to sit down with your back supported and legs uncrossed for at least 5 minutes before 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 with a cushion or the arm of a chair, for example
- 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 and detectors sense vibrations in your arteries a doctor will use a stethoscope to detect these if your blood pressure is measured manually
- 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.
Avoid Common Errors While Taking Multiple Readings In A Row
Avoid these common errors 5 while resting in between measurements:
- Checking the latest stock market prices.
- Reading or watching the news.
- Getting out of your chair to do a task quickly.
- Changing your body position like crossing your legs or slouching.
- Taking a quick drink or snacking on some food close by.
- Anything other than sitting quietly and remaining relaxed.
In addition to those activities to avoid, prior to starting the first reading make sure to do the following 6:
- Dont exercise within 30 minutes.
- Dont eat or drink within 30 minutes.
- Avoid all caffeine 30 minutes prior to measuring.
- Dont smoke 30 minutes prior.
- Empty your bladder prior to measuring your blood pressure or make sure youre not experiencing the urge to use the bathroom.
- Wear comfortable clothes including short sleeve shirts.
- Sit in an upright chair with your back resting against the chair.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and dont cross your legs.
- Wrap the cuff around your bare skin and not over clothing, including thin material.
- Maintain your arm in the correct position and the cuff at heart level.
If theres any doubt about how to position your arm 7 or to achieve heart level, please refer to my blog post and refresh yourself on these two crucial details, Effect of Arm Position on Blood Pressure.
Many Factors Can Cause Blood Pressure Fluctuations
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My blood pressure readings vary throughout the day. Sometimes theyre high and sometimes theyre low. So Im not sure if I have high blood pressure or not.
Blood pressure varies throughout the day and is influenced by a number of factors, says Dr. Joshua Penn, a cardiologist with Cedars-Sinai Medical Group and in private practice in Beverly Hills.
For starters, all humans have a natural daily rise and fall in blood pressure that corresponds with their circadian rhythm.
For most people, blood pressure will be at its lowest in the early morning hours and then rise through the late morning and peak in midafternoon.
Typically, this range will be about 10 to 15 millimeters of mercury on the upper, or systolic, value, which represents the peak pressure in the arteries and five to 10 millimeters of mercury on the lower, or diastolic, value, which represents the lowest pressure at the resting phase of the cardiac cycle.
Thus, a person with a resting blood pressure of 125/70 at 3 a.m., might have a reading of 140/80 by late afternoon.
Other factors contribute to fluctuations in blood pressure, but the most common one is hypertension, a condition characterized by chronic high blood pressure.
One of the manifestations of poorly controlled blood pressure is a high degree of variability, he says. A person with a lot of variation could easily have a blood pressure of 140/90 in the morning and a reading of 200/100 later in the day.
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How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
Theres only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
Learning To Cope With Stress Can Help
Stress and hypertension have often been linked, but researchers are still looking into a direct relationship between the two. Still, the best advice to hypertensive patients: Try to relax.
When you are stressed, your body sends stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones create a temporary spike in blood pressure, causing your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. When the stressful situation is over, blood pressure goes back to its normal level.
Chronic stress, however, may cause your body to stay in this highly-charged state longer than natural.
While stress itself may or may not affect blood pressure, how you cope with stress does. For instance, overeating, smoking and drinking alcohol in response to stressful situations are direct causes of sustained high blood pressure. On the flip side, healthier coping mechanisms like exercising, practicing yoga and meditating can all help lower blood pressure.
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What Is Normal Blood Pressure
In late 2017 new guidelines were established by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
Normal:Less than 120/80 mm Hg
Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 diastolic less than 80
Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
Stage 2 hypertension: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
For best results with a home blood pressure monitor, take the reading after youve been sitting calmly for at least 10 minutes.
A reading at a doctors office may reflect the so-called white coat syndrome, in which BP is elevated due to anxiety.
Increasing your consumption of raw vegetables and fruits, and reducing your intake of processed foods, will lower your baseline blood pressure.
So will structured exercise and quitting smoking.
Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Blood Pressure Lying Down Vs Sitting
Many wonder why positioning makes such a difference in blood pressure readings. Lets take lying down vs. sitting as an example. Our heart is a pump, and it takes less work to pump blood to our brain when we are lying down. This is because our head is about the same level as our heart. However, when we are up, our head is a lot higher than our heart. This means the heart has to pump much harder to get blood to our brain, so as a result, blood pressure is higher.
In most cases, blood pressure is taken while a person is sitting down with the arm dropping onto a table. While sometimes the middle point of the upper arm might, in fact, be parallel and in line with the position of the heart, the rest of the arm is not, so it should not be surprising that the measurement taking while laying down might be a little lower, since there is less gravity to counter.
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Heart Attack And Heart Disease
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
How To Take Blood Pressure
You can take your blood pressure at home using a wrist blood pressure monitor or an upper arm cuff blood pressure monitor. Experts typically recommend upper arm cuffs because they are the most accurate. Upper arm cuffs can come with either a manual or digital monitor. Both work well, but if youre measuring your blood pressure on your own regularly, a digital one will likely be easiest to use correctly.
To take your blood pressure accurately with a digital upper arm cuff, start by sitting quietly in an upright position for a few minutes, allowing your body a moment to relax. Be mindful to uncross your legs and ankles, as well as use comfortable support for your back.
With the monitor sitting on a table in front of you, place your arm next to itat approximately heart leveland place the cuff around your bare upper arm about one inch above your elbow. Secure the cuff so that you can only slide a fingertip under the top edge.
Next, simply turn on the monitor, press the start button, and take normal breaths as the cuff inflates and deflates, measuring your blood pressure and producing your reading on the screen.
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Effect Of Dreaming On Blood Pressure
Interestingly enough, dreaming about exercise may evoke a blood pressure response similar to that which would be observed if the individual actually were exercising. A good example is that of a person dreaming he is climbing the Washington Monument.
Although sound asleep and involved in no physical activity, except perhaps for involuntary muscular twitches, blood pressure approaches levels that would be read if he actually were climbing the monument.
Although in deep sleep with a pressure o£ 100/70, the intrusion of a physically active dream raises the pressure to 180/100, when in real life climbing the monument might bring the reading to 200/104.
The old teaching was that a dream is completed in a split second, that an event in reality requiring half an hour can be compressed in a dream into a fraction of a second.
Doctors recently have discovered that this is erroneous. A dream takes about as long to accomplish as the actual physical act would require. A dream involving prolonged exercise or prolonged anxiety has a prolonged effect on blood pressure.
The clinical importance of this observation is only lately being appreciated. If a patient has a known illness or has an incipient illness which is not recognized because he feels well and has not had a physical examination recently, this may explode into a full-blown setback during the blood pressure elevation of a dream.
Medicines For High Blood Pressure
|Why are different people given different medicines?|
People respond differently to blood pressure medicines. A number of things can affect how you respond to each medicine, including your ethnic background, age and how much salt you eat. It can take some trial and error to find the medicine or combination of medicines that works best for you.
Younger, non-black people tend to respond slightly better to ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers. Older people and those of African or Caribbean origin tend to respond better to calcium-channel blockers and thiazide diuretics.
These will usually be the first medicines youre offered, aiming to keep the number of medicines needed to a minimum. Read more about .
|Should I be taking aspirin as well?|
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might recommend that you take aspirin if you are at a higher risk of heart attacks or strokes, for example, if you have had an ischaemic stroke caused by a blood clot or heart attack in the past. This is because aspirin thins your blood and prevents blood clots from forming.
Do not start taking aspirin regularly unless your doctor advsises you to because aspirin’s ability to prevent clots can raise the risk of bleeding from the stomach and intestines, it might also be linked to a higher risk of strokes caused by burst blood vessels.
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Blood Pressure Differences When Lying Down Standing Up And Sitting
Written byDr. Victor MarchionePublished onMay 6, 2016
Accurate blood pressure measurements, including blood pressure differences when lying down versus standing up and sitting can be very helpful when healthcare providers are trying to monitor the condition. However, its important to understand the impact that each position has on blood pressure levels.
There are three common positions that healthcare workers use when taking someones blood pressure. Taking blood pressure lying down is the obvious method used when a patient is hospitalized, but in a doctors office a patient is usually sitting in a chair. Some nurses also measure blood pressure while a person is standing.
Records show that diastolic pressure is about 55mm/Hg lower when taking blood pressure lying down vs. sitting. Systolic pressure is approximately 88 mm/Hg in the lying down position versus the sitting position, but only when the person taking the measurement positions the patients arm so that it is at the same level as the right atrium of the heart.
People should also be conscious of the fact thatblood pressure readings are different if you are in a sitting position with your legs crossed. It actually increases systolic pressure by as much as 8mm/Hg.
Heart Rate Vs Blood Pressure
Blood pressure measures the force that moves blood through your blood vessels while your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. They are both important health indicators, but they are measured independently and dont necessarily increase or decrease synchronously.
A temporary increase in heart rate, such as during exercise, is not considered problematic. In fact, your heart is expected to rise during a bout of activity and return to its resting rate afterward. And the more intense you work, the more you should expect your heart rate to rise during exercise. Your heart rate can safely double during activity so long as it returns to its resting rate relatively soon after you finish your workout.
Significant increases in blood pressure, on the other hand, are not normal and should be monitored and shared with your health care provider.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
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. :
Risks Of High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- are of black African or black Caribbean descent
- live in a deprived area
Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
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How Blood Pressure Is Measured
It is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed and sitting. Blood pressure is usually measured by wrapping an inflatable pressure cuff around your upper arm.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, such as 120/80. The larger number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood during each beat. This is called the systolic blood pressure.
The lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. This is called the diastolic blood pressure. Both are measured in units called millimetres of mercury .
Fluctuating Blood Pressure And Inconsistent Bp Readings
Many people will experience fluctuating blood pressure throughout each day. Fluctuations within normal ranges are perfectly okay and expected to happen. If your blood pressure was not changing during the day, there would be something wrong.
There are many reasons why your blood pressure will go up and down. Some of them are happening no matter what, and others can be avoided. Larger, more than normal fluctuations, can happen too. If they do, it means you may have a medical issue that needs attention from a physician.
This post will inform you of all the fluctuating blood pressure causes, good and bad, and how you can correct some of them. Ill also tell you complications which can occur from large, consistent fluctuations and treatments to avoid them in the future.
BP Tip: You can lower BP naturally by changing how you breathe. Theres a device approved by the FDA and The American Heart Association. It guides your breathing a few minutes a day which has been proven to lower BP. You can check it out in the manufacturers website by .
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