How to check blood pressure at home
Do you want to know how to check blood pressure without a cuff, how to check blood pressure by hand or how to check blood pressure at home without equipment? Okay, in this article, you will learn how to check blood pressure at home by hand.
You need a monitor (sphygmomanometer) with a measuring unit and cuff to take your blood pressure. A stethoscope will also be part of a manual device. At a drugstore or doctor’s office, anyone can purchase one or undergo testing.
One of the four primary vital indicators, along with heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature, is blood pressure. Vital sign alterations may point to an underlying health condition or the need for a change in lifestyle.
Continue reading to find out how to take a proper blood pressure reading and how to understand the findings.
Table of Contents
Measuring blood pressure
The force that the blood exerts on the body’s blood vessels is known as blood pressure. Two numbers that represent the pressure in the arteries as blood circulates through the body are included in a blood pressure reading.
The upper number, called the systolic pressure, measures the pressure inside the arteries as the heart contracts to pump blood. The lower number, called the diastolic pressure, is the pressure inside the arteries as the heart rests between beats.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), normal blood pressure is anything below 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Higher measurements often indicate that the heart is working too hard in pumping blood through the arteries.
High blood pressure can occur due to many factors, including:
- high cholesterol, which can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries
- smoking tobacco
- consuming alcohol
- low levels of physical activity
- health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes
- having a diet that is high in salt
Since high blood pressure frequently has no symptoms, accurate blood pressure readings are important. If blood pressure reaches or surpasses 180/120 mm Hg, several symptoms, such a headache, may occur. The individual may now be going through a hypertensive crisis, which is severe hypertension need immediate medical attention.
Home blood pressure monitoring often necessitates a machine, which insurance may or may not cover. If a patient needs to know their blood pressure at particular times of the day or after taking particular medications, a doctor may advise home blood pressure monitoring.
Without a machine, it is feasible to take blood pressure, but it is more challenging.
Checking blood pressure manually
Without using an automated device, a person will require a number of medical items to check their blood pressure:
- a stethoscope
- a blood pressure cuff with a squeezable balloon
- an aneroid monitor with a numbered dial to read the measurements
For the most accurate reading, a person who wants to check their blood pressure manually should make sure they use the right size of manual cuff. They can then take the following steps:
- sit in a relaxed position with the arm at rest on a table
- secure the cuff around the bicep so that it cannot move but is not tight
- squeeze the balloon to increase the pressure
- watch the aneroid monitor and increase the pressure to 20–30 mm Hg higher than usual blood pressure
- after inflating the cuff, place the stethoscope just inside the elbow crease under the cuff
- slowly deflate the balloon and listen to the sounds, known as Korotkoff sounds, through the stethoscope
- note the number on the aneroid monitor when the first sound occurs, as this is systolic pressure
- continue listening until the steady heartbeat sound stops
- at this point, record the number from the aneroid monitor, which is the diastolic pressure
Since it is more accurate than a digital monitor, doctors frequently utilize this kind of monitor. However, using it at home may be more challenging for certain people.
Automated blood pressure machines
Machines’ operating manuals might differ, therefore it’s important to read them carefully to guarantee appropriate operation. If the instructions are challenging to comprehend, a nearby pharmacy or doctor’s office will be able to provide instructions on how to use the device properly.
The next time they see a patient, a doctor could ask them to bring their at-home machine along so they can compare the results and gauge the accuracy.
It’s important to use a high-quality equipment. Inaccurate readings have the potential to be deceiving if they are too low or stressful if they are too high. Inaccurate readings might result in damaging modifications to medications or therapies if a person is monitoring their blood pressure at home as part of a treatment plan.
Using blood pressure apps
Although there are apps and wrist gadgets that advertise they can detect blood pressure, doctors caution that these are frequently of low quality. The readings can be inaccurate as a result. They are not a trustworthy means of keeping track of someone’s health.
However, those who must regularly check their blood pressure may find it useful to use applications that log results. By logging a series of measurements using these applications, doctors may be able to see trends in blood pressure and suggest treatments.
Following are the several categories for blood pressure results:
|Blood pressure status||Systolic pressure (mm Hg)||Diastolic pressure (mm Hg)|
|Normal||less than 120||less than 80|
|Elevated||120–129||less than 80|
|Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension)||130–139||80–89|
|Stage 2 high blood pressure||140 or higher||90 or higher|
|Hypertensive crisis (seek immediate medical attention)||higher than 180||higher than 120|
Anything below 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal blood pressure. A healthy number might, however, differ from person to person. The numbers may change based on various factors, such as:
- physical activity levels
- stress levels
- underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes
Some people have greater blood pressure when they are receiving medical attention than when they are going about their normal lives. White coat hypertension is one name for this syndrome used by doctors.
When to see a doctor
People who suffer high blood pressure when pregnant should seek medical care as some forms of hypertension can endanger both the mother and the fetus.
A hypertensive crisis is present in anyone who has a systolic pressure greater than 180 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure greater than 120 mm Hg, and they should seek immediate medical attention.
Tips for checking blood pressure at home
When taking one’s blood pressure at home, it’s important to be:
- placing the cuff directly on bare skin on the upper arm
- taking a few deep breaths and relaxing for up to 5 minutes before measuring blood pressure
- avoiding talking during the test
- placing the feet flat on the floor and sitting up straight while measuring blood pressure
- avoiding checking blood pressure in a cold room
- supporting the arm as close to heart level as possible
- measuring the blood pressure at a few different times during the day
- avoiding exercising, smoking, and drinking caffeine or alcohol for 30 minutes before taking a blood pressure reading
- emptying the bladder before taking a blood pressure test, as a full bladder may give an incorrect blood pressure reading
- taking several readings 1 minute apart, as readings can vary
Things to avoid
When taking their blood pressure, people should consult a doctor if they have:
- muscular weakness, known as paresis, in one arm
- paralysis in an arm
- a line into their veins, such as a catheter
- had a mastectomy on one side
- recent surgical wounds on one side
- a dialysis shunt in one arm
These conditions and factors can increase the risk of adverse effects, such as swelling due to lymphedema. It may be necessary to use the other arm or place the cuff around the calf instead.
There are several blood pressure monitors that may be used at home. Automated blood pressure monitors for home use can offer a general notion of whether a person’s blood pressure is within an acceptable range, albeit they may not be as accurate as tests done by a doctor.
Lifestyle decisions frequently assist in controlling high blood pressure. Exercise, dietary choices, and stress-reduction techniques are a few examples. Occasionally, a doctor will also recommend medicine.
A person can determine if they need to seek medical attention for hypertension by monitoring their blood pressure at home. It can also assist a doctor in determining whether to change a patient’s pharmaceutical regimen.
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