Why take your blood pressure?
Blood pressure is important because it is a future indicator of health problems. We like to think of it as it in terms of owning a car. In order to keep your car running well and avoid any future issues, it is a good idea to check your oil to make sure it is filled appropriately. The human body is a finely tuned machine and preventative maintenance is always a good idea.
High blood pressure puts excessive strain on your heart and arteries. Over time, this can make arteries weaker and more narrow. This increases the likelihood that they will get clogged in your lifetime, which leads to heart attack, a stroke, kidney disease and other mental ailments.
Considerations before checking your blood pressure
Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a second! Before you start taking your blood pressure (BP) it is a good idea to make sure there are no outside factors that may raise your BP temporarily such as;
- External stress
- Fluctuations in temperatures
- Smoking or drinking alcohol
- Prescription or over the counter medications
Try to avoid any of the aforementioned factors before taking your blood pressure or your results may be skewed. Also try to take your blood pressure at the same time every day to ensure more accurate results. You may even want to check your blood pressure multiple times per day to rule out any discrepancies.
Tips for optimal blood pressure measurement:
- Take your blood pressure in a quiet place.
- Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed. An emptied bladder is preferred.
- Remove restrictive closing and ensure you can place your blood pressure monitor over your arm without going over top of any clothing.
- Make sure to rest for 5-10 minutes before beginning your test.
Steps for taking your best Blood Pressure
This step by step guide shows you how to take your blood pressure using a manual or digital blood pressure monitor. Make sure to also refer to the instructions found on the device you are using for the most accurate results.
- Locate your pulse. Press your index and middle fingers gently on the inside bend of your elbow. If you are unable to find your pulse, place the stethescope (manual monitor) or arm cuff (digital monitor) on the same area.
- Slip the cuff on to your arm, ensuring that the head is over the artery. The cuff is often marked with an arrow to show the proper way to put it on. The bottom edge of the cuff should be about one inch from the bend of your elbow. It should be snug but not tight. If you experience discomfort it is probably too tight.
- Hold the pressure gauge in your left hand and the bulb in your right hand (for measurements on your left arm.
- Tighten the valve on the bulb by screwing it clockwise.
- Pump the bulb by squeezing it with your right hand.
- Keep pumping the cuff until the unit reads 30 points above your systolic pressure.
- Slowly release the pressure in the cuff by turning the valve counterclockwise. Ensure that the gauge only falls 2 or 3 points per heartbeat. This takes practice, but it’s not as daunting as it sounds!
- Listen for the first pulse beat and record the reading on a piece of paper. This is your systolic pressure.
- Keep deflating the cuff and listen until the sound disappears. When you can no longer hear your pulse, note that reading on the same piece of paper. This is your diastolic pressure.
- Grasp the pressure bulb in your right hand.
- Turn the digital monitor on. Ensure the monitor reads zero, which indicates the reader is ready for use.
- Pump the bulb with your right hand or use automatic cuff inflation (if available).
- Keep inflating the cuff with the bulb until you reach 30 points above your systolic pressure.
- Remain still and silent until the readings appear on the screen.
- Wait until you hear an audible noise indicating the measurement is complete. Note your systolic and diastolic pressure.
And there you go, it’s really that simple! Make sure to follow instructions from your healthcare practitioner by recording the measurements with the date and time as well as any special notes that may have affected your readings.