How To Take Your Blood Pressure Correctly: Tips And Advice

Tips, advice and detailed instruction on how you can accurately take your blood pessure using the correct equipment, instruction and practice.

You can take your blood pressure in a professional manner with the right equipment, instruction, and practice. If you would like to learn the technique here are some practical tips, advice and a detailed description of how blood pressure is accurately taken.

The very first step is understanding what the term blood pressure means and its health implications. Blood is carried from the heart in vessels called arteries. Blood pressure refers to the pressure of the blood within the arteries of the body. The systolic pressure is the arterial pressure at the height of pulsation after the heart has contracted to force blood through the arteries. When the heart relaxes and the arterial pressure is at the lowest level of the pulsation this is called the diastolic pressure. When blood pressure readings are taken the systolic reading is given first followed by the diastolic pressure reading. If the reading is at 140/90 or above this is called hypertension or high blood pressure. If the reading is too low it is called hypotension or low blood pressure. Both hypertension and hypotension are considered serious medical problems.

The next step is purchasing equipment. A blood pressure monitor is the instrument used to take blood pressure. You can purchase a monitor online or at a medical supply store. There are all types and designs of blood pressure monitors including digital and electronic models. Digital and electronic models are easier to handle than the traditional or manual models but are usually much more expensive, motion sensitive and require batteries.

A typical traditional or manual blood pressure monitor (also called a sphygmomanometer) consists of four parts: An inflatable cuff attached by rubber tubing to a hollow rubber bulb, a gauge with millimeter markings, and an air release valve. Traditional blood pressure monitors are available in various styles. The more economical ones have the bulb and gauge attached to the cuff on separate tubes. Others have the bulb and gauge on the same tube which makes it possible for the blood pressure to be taken and read with one hand. Some styles have luminescent face plates on the gauge to facilitate reading in the dark. There are also sizes for obese adults, extra large adults and children. Manual blood pressure monitors range in cost starting at $25.00. Whichever design you choose ensure that you purchase the correct cuff size, and an easy to read gauge. The monitor should also meet your needs in style, cost and comfort.

In addition to the blood pressure monitor you will also need a stethoscope. The stethoscope is a listening device that consists of a chest piece connected to thick walled tubing. The chest piece is designed to relay the acoustic sounds of the heart up the tubing and to your listening ear at the other end. When purchasing a stethoscope look for one that is lightweight and emphasizes clarity in acoustics which minimizes background interference. You also have the option of purchasing a stethoscope with non chill rings on the chest piece for skin comfort. Stethoscopes can be purchased at a minimum cost of $7.00.

If you are monitoring your blood pressure closely try to take it at the same time each day, in the same position and using the same arm. An individual's blood pressure varies hourly, daily, and may differ from arm to arm. Emotional reactions can also impact blood pressure.

When you are ready to take your blood pressure ensure that you are in a calm and quiet emotional condition. Sit in a comfortable position with your arm bare and outstretched in a relaxed, slightly bent position. Support the arm by leaning it against an arm rest. Ensure that the air release valve is closed by turning it clockwise. Wrap the cuff securely and snugly around your upper arm approximately 1 inch above the elbow. Place the chest piece of the stethoscope over the pulse of the Brachial artery that extends from your shoulder to just below your elbow. To find the pulse of the Brachial artery use the index and middle fingers to search gently (beginning from the outer arm area just inside the crease of the elbow) until you feel the pulsation. Some blood pressure cuffs have artery indicators which makes it easier to find the pulse.

Place the ear piece of the stethoscope in your ears and begin pumping the rubber bulb rapidly with a squeeze and release motion until no sound can be heard through the stethoscope. The cuff should feel tightly inflated. This means when air is pumped into the cuff, blood circulation ceases through the artery. Release the pressure by turning the air release valve slowly counterclockwise. Deflate at approximately 2 to 3 millimeters per second. As the blood begins to flow through the artery again, listen for the first sounds and watch the reading on the gauge. This first sound is the systolic pressure. Make a mental note of this number. As the pressure lowers in the cuff, the sounds will diminish. When the sound stops look at the gauge for the reading. This is the diastolic pressure reading. If the reading is 140/90 or higher your blood pressure is considered elevated. 120/80 is considered an optimal reading. If you choose to use a digital monitor the procedure is more automated. Some models will self inflate and then automatically release the cuff pressure. A display window will give the reading.

After you have successfully taken your blood pressure, wait two or three minutes and retake to ensure accuracy until you get familiar with the technique. Record the results including day, time, arm position. Always consult your doctor when you do home blood pressure readings and have your equipment tested at the doctor's office each year to ensure accuracy. Store all your blood pressure equipment in a safe place out of the reach of children. Do not tangle the tubing attached to the monitor during storage and examine all equipment for visible defects before using.

Leaning to take your blood pressure successfully might take a little practice. However, after you become comfortable with the technique you will have the confidence of being knowledgeable about one more aspect of your health care.

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