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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR PATIENT GOES HOME?

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Dec.11.2020
 How to Take Your Blood Pressure

How to Take Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measurement of how strongly your blood is pressing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart throughout your body. Your health care provider takes your blood pressure at each office visit. You can also take your own blood pressure at home with a blood pressure monitor.
You may need to take your own blood pressure to:
  • Confirm a diagnosis of high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Monitor your blood pressure over time.
  • Make sure your blood pressure medicine is working.

Supplies needed:

  • Blood pressure monitor.
  • Dining room chair to sit in.
  • Table or desk.
  • Small notebook and pencil or pen.

How to prepare

To get the most accurate reading, avoid the following for 30 minutes before you check your blood pressure:
  • Drinking caffeine.
  • Drinking alcohol.
  • Eating.
  • Smoking.
  • Exercising.
Five minutes before you check your blood pressure:
  • Use the bathroom and urinate so that you have an empty bladder.
  • Sit quietly in a dining room chair. Do not sit in a soft couch or an armchair. Do not talk.

How to take your blood pressure

To check your blood pressure, follow the instructions in the manual that came with your blood pressure monitor. If you have a digital blood pressure monitor, the instructions may be as follows:
  1. Sit up straight in a chair.
  2. Place your feet on the floor. Do not cross your ankles or legs.
  3. Rest your left arm at the level of your heart on a table or desk or on the arm of a chair.
  4. Pull up your shirt sleeve.
  5. Wrap the blood pressure cuff around the upper part of your left arm, 1 inch (2.5 cm) above your elbow. It is best to wrap the cuff around bare skin.
  6. Fit the cuff snugly around your arm. You should be able to place only one finger between the cuff and your arm.
  7. Position the cord so that it rests in the bend of your elbow.
  8. Press the power button.
  9. Sit quietly while the cuff inflates and deflates.
  10. Read the digital reading on the monitor screen and write the numbers down (record them) in a notebook.
  11. Wait 2–3 minutes, then repeat the steps, starting at step 1.

What does my blood pressure reading mean?

A blood pressure reading consists of a higher number over a lower number. Ideally, your blood pressure should be below 120/80. The first ("top") number is called the systolic pressure. It is a measure of the pressure in your arteries as your heart beats. The second ("bottom") number is called the diastolic pressure. It is a measure of the pressure in your arteries as the heart relaxes.
Blood pressure is classified into five stages. The following are the stages for adults who do not have a short-term serious illness or a chronic condition. Systolic pressure and diastolic pressure are measured in a unit called mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).

Normal

  • Systolic pressure: below 120.
  • Diastolic pressure: below 80.

Elevated

  • Systolic pressure: 120–129.
  • Diastolic pressure: below 80.

Hypertension stage 1

  • Systolic pressure: 130–139.
  • Diastolic pressure: 80–89.

Hypertension stage 2

  • Systolic pressure: 140 or above.
  • Diastolic pressure: 90 or above.
You can have elevated blood pressure or hypertension even if only the systolic or only the diastolic number in your reading is higher than normal.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your health care provider.
  • Check your blood pressure at the same time every day.
  • Take your monitor to the next appointment with your health care provider to make sure that:
    • You are using it correctly.
    • It provides accurate readings.
  • Be sure you understand what your goal blood pressure numbers are.
  • Tell your health care provider if you are having any side effects from blood pressure medicine.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

General tips

  • Your health care provider can suggest a reliable monitor that will meet your needs. There are several types of home blood pressure monitors.
  • Choose a monitor that has an arm cuff. Do not choose a monitor that measures your blood pressure from your wrist or finger.
  • Choose a cuff that wraps snugly around your upper arm. You should be able to fit only one finger between your arm and the cuff.
  • You can buy a blood pressure monitor at most drugstores or online.

Where to find more information

American Heart Association: www.heart.org

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your blood pressure is consistently high.

Get help right away if:

  • Your systolic blood pressure is higher than 180.
  • Your diastolic blood pressure is higher than 120.

Summary

  • Blood pressure is a measurement of how strongly your blood is pressing against the walls of your arteries.
  • A blood pressure reading consists of a higher number over a lower number. Ideally, your blood pressure should be below 120/80.
  • Check your blood pressure at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and exercise for 30 minutes prior to checking your blood pressure. These agents can affect the accuracy of the blood pressure reading.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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