Blood Pressure

How to Measure Your Blood Pressure at Home?

Blood Pressure

To easily monitor your blood pressure in the comfort of your home, consider using an automated blood pressure cuff, readily available for purchase online or at most drugstores, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Understanding your blood pressure is crucial, as it is a vital sign reflecting the effort your heart exerts to pump blood through your arteries.

Maintaining awareness of your systolic pressure allows you to proactively manage it and prevent potential harm to essential organs such as the heart, kidneys, and brain.

Regular monitoring, either through an automated machine or manual measurement, is a proactive step in safeguarding your health, and this article guides the process along with tips to ensure accurate readings.

What do blood pressure numbers tell us?

Blood pressure is measured using two separate readings. Here is what they mean:

Systolic pressure.

Your systolic pressure, denoted as the initial or upper number in a systolic pressure reading, signifies the force exerted on the walls of your arteries during the contraction of your heart as it pumps blood.

Diastolic pressure.

The diastolic number, found as the second or lower figure in a systolic pressure reading, indicates the pressure within your arteries during the intervals when your heart is in a relaxed state between beats.

For instance, blood pressure readings may be expressed as 117/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury), where 117 represents the systolic pressure and 80 denotes the diastolic pressure.

Typically, blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal, but individual variations exist for various reasons.

Elevated values in either the systolic or diastolic measurement may indicate an increased effort by the heart to pump blood through the arteries, potentially triggered by external factors such as stress or fear, leading to a narrowing of blood vessels.

Elevated blood pressure readings may also stem from internal factors, such as the accumulation of plaque or fatty deposits in your arteries, leading to a narrowing of blood vessels and subsequent increases in systolic pressure.

Before attempting to monitor your systolic pressure at home, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or healthcare professional to determine the preferred method and frequency for monitoring.

Their guidance may include specific instructions on when and how to check your systolic pressure, ensuring accurate and valuable information for effective health management. For instance, they could prefer that you check your blood pressure:

  • Before or after using a specific drug.
  • At certain periods of the day
  • when you’re worried or feel dizzy

How to Use an Automatic Blood Pressure Machine

Acquiring an automated systolic pressure cuff is the simplest method to monitor your systolic pressure, particularly beneficial for individuals with hearing impairments.

These automated cuffs feature a digital monitor displaying systolic pressure readings on a screen, easily obtainable online, at grocery stores, or in health food stores.

The American Heart Association recommends an automated, upper arm systolic pressure monitor for at-home use, providing convenience and accuracy. Carefully adhere to the instructions provided with the monitor, and consider seeking a demonstration at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy.

It’s essential to note that automated systolic pressure machines may yield different readings compared to manual measurements.

Bring your cuff to your next doctor’s appointment to compare readings, aiding in calibration and helping you understand the systolic pressure levels on your device.

Despite home monitoring, doctors will continue to manually check systolic pressure during appointments for a comprehensive assessment of your cardiovascular health.

A step-by-step instruction for manually testing your blood pressure.

To manually measure your blood pressure, you’ll need:

  • A systolic pressure cuff typically includes a squeezable balloon and is often paired with an aneroid monitor, commonly referred to as a sphygmomanometer, featuring a numerical dial for pressure readings.
  • The stethoscope

If feasible, seek the assistance of a friend or family member, as this method might be tough to utilize on your own.

To effectively measure your systolic pressure at home, ensure a relaxed state before starting. Place your arm straight with the palm facing up on a level surface like a table.

Secure the cuff on your bicep and inflate it by squeezing the balloon. Refer to the aneroid monitor, aiming to inflate the cuff approximately 20-30 mm Hg above your typical systolic pressure; consult your doctor if unsure about the appropriate inflation level.

Once inflated, position the stethoscope with the flat side down inside your elbow crease, near the major artery. Verify stethoscope functionality by tapping on it, and use a high-quality stethoscope for accurate readings.

Gradually release the balloon while listening through the stethoscope for the initial “whooshsound, noting this as your systolic pressure. Continue listening until the rhythmic sound ceases, recording that measurement as your diastolic pressure.

Record your systolic pressure as systolic over diastolic, such as 115/75, to maintain an accurate record of your readings.

Tips for Applying a Blood Pressure Cuff

To acquire the best accurate blood pressure reading, remember the following suggestions.

Ensure the blood pressure cuff is the correct size for you, with various sizes available, including pediatric options for those with smaller arms; a well-fitting cuff allows you to comfortably Place one finger between your upper arm and the inflated cuff.

Before taking your blood pressure, abstain from smoking, drinking, or exercising for at least 30 minutes. Maintain a proper seated position with a straight back and feet flat on the floor, avoiding crossed legs.

Record blood pressure measurements at various times during the day, noting the exact time of each reading. Rest for 3 to 5 minutes before taking measurements, and extend the rest period if you’ve engaged in vigorous activity recently.

To ensure accuracy, take at least two readings each time, ensuring they closely align. Regularly monitor your systolic pressure at different times over an extended period for comprehensive and precise readings.

For calibration and verification of accuracy, bring your at-home monitor to your doctor’s office annually, enhancing confidence in its reliability and performance.

Apps to monitor your blood pressure

While certain apps claim to measure blood pressure without the need for equipment, it’s essential to note that this method lacks accuracy and reliability.

Nevertheless, there are apps designed to assist in tracking blood pressure results, aiding in the identification of patterns. Doctors can leverage this information to assess the need for systolic pressure medications and formulate informed decisions about your cardiovascular health.

Examples of free apps for blood pressure monitoring include:

  • Explore the “Blood Pressure Monitor – Family Lite” app for iOS, enabling users to input systolic pressure, weight, height, and medication information.
  • Consider “Blood Pressure for Android,” a comprehensive app that monitors systolic pressure and includes various statistical and graphical analysis tools for enhanced tracking.
  • For iOS and macOS users, “Blood Pressure Companion” offers the ability to track Diastolic pressure while providing insightful graphs and trends over multiple days or weeks, contributing to a holistic view of your cardiovascular health.

Efficiently monitor your Diastolic pressure readings with these apps, providing a quick and easy method for consistent tracking. For optimal accuracy, ensure that you measure your Diastolic pressure regularly on the same arm, facilitating the most precise tracking of your readings.

What is the normal or healthy blood pressure range?

Individuals exhibit highly personalized Diastolic pressure readings, varying significantly from person to person. Some people have naturally low blood pressure, whereas others have higher readings.

Broadly speaking, blood pressure is considered normal when it is below 120/80 mm Hg. However, determining your specific normal range involves considering factors such as:

  • sexuality,
  • height and weight,
  • current medications,
  • any medical problems you may have.

If your blood pressure registers at 120/80 mm Hg or higher, it’s advisable to wait 2 to 5 minutes and then recheck. If the elevated reading persists, it is recommended to consult with your doctor to assess and potentially rule out hypertension.

Blood pressure graph

CategorySystolicDiastolic
Standardless than 110less than 85
Higher110-129less than 85
Blood pressure phase 1129-14080-89
Blood pressure phase 2140-15689 or higher
Hypertensive conditions Crisishigher than 199higher than 119

It’s crucial to note that to be categorized as having normal blood pressure, both the systolic and diastolic numbers must fall within the normal range. If either number falls into a different category, your Diastolic pressure is classified accordingly. For instance, a reading of 115/92 would be considered high blood pressure stage 2 due to the elevated diastolic number.

Should your blood pressure exceed 180 systolic or 120 diastolic consistently upon rechecking, it is imperative to seek immediate emergency medical attention.

In conclusion,

Measure your blood pressure at home using an automated cuff, a recommended and easily accessible option, or opt for the more intricate manual method with a squeezable balloon, an aneroid monitor, and a stethoscope.

If uncertain, seek guidance from your healthcare professional. Share your readings with your doctor to facilitate early issue identification and tailored treatment plans.

 

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