How to Take a Blood Pressure

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1 How to Take a Blood Pressure GENERAL INFORMATION: What is blood pressure? Blood pressure (BP) is the force or pressure that carries blood to all parts of the body. A blood pressure reading is the pressure that blood puts on the walls of arteries. There are 2 parts to a blood pressure. One is called systolic (sis-tall-ik), and is the top or the first number in a blood pressure reading. The other number is called the diastolic (di-uh-stall-ik) and is the bottom or second number in the reading. An example of a blood pressure reading is 120/80 (120 over 80). In this example, 120 is the systolic number and 80 is the diastolic number. The systolic (top) number is the peak blood pressure when the heart is beating or squeezing out blood. The diastolic (bottom) number is the pressure when your heart is filling with blood or resting between beats. High blood pressure is a systolic number of 140 or higher, or a diastolic number of 90 or higher (140/90). Normal blood pressure is a systolic number less than 130, and a diastolic number below 85 (120/80). High normal blood pressure is a systolic number between 130 to 139, or a diastolic number between (135/85). Why do you need to take your blood pressure? You may need to have your blood pressure taken because you have high or low blood pressure. Usually, there are no symptoms with high blood pressure. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked. High blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels (arteries). This damage may make it more likely for you to have a stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. Low blood pressure may cause you to feel dizzy or feel like you are going to faint (pass out). This may happen when you go from a sitting or lying position to a standing position. Your caregiver may want to have your blood pressure checked to find out if it is low. Care: Caregivers will teach you or someone else how to check your blood pressure. You will be told how often your blood pressure should be checked. It is important to write down the blood pressure reading each time it is checked. You or the person taught to check your blood pressure will be told when to call caregivers about your blood pressure reading. Do's and Don'ts: Do not stop taking your blood pressure (BP) medicine because you may not know that your BP is high. Keep a written list of what medicines you take and when and why you take them. Ask

2 your caregiver for information about your medicine. Do not take any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers. Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment. How many times a day should you take your blood pressure? Your caregiver will tell you how many times and how you should take your blood pressure. Carefully follow your caregiver's instructions. What equipment should I use to take a blood pressure? Blood pressure kits and blood pressure monitors can be bought at drug stores or medical supply stores. The blood pressure devices are being improved constantly. Ask your caregiver to help you decide which would be the best for you to use at home. When selecting a blood pressure cuff, choose one that is right for your size. For children, choose a small, pediatric (peed-e-ah-trik) cuff. For an adult, an average size cuff should fit. For a very large adult, choose a large cuff, or a cuff that fits on the leg. How to take a blood pressure Using a digital (DIJ-uh-tull) blood pressure monitor: It is important to read the directions before using your blood pressure monitor. Each blood pressure monitor may work in a different way. The digital device may include an inflatable cuff and monitor. The device has a built-in pump which inflates the cuff. The blood pressure is shown on the digital display. The following steps may be helpful to take a blood pressure. Sit up or lie down with the arm stretched out. The arm should be level with the heart. Put the cuff about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the elbow. Wrap the cuff snugly around the arm. The blood pressure reading may not be correct if the cuff is too loose. Turn on the blood pressure monitor and follow the directions that come with the monitor. Write down your BP, the date, the time, and which arm was used to take the BP. Let the air out of the cuff. Turn off the monitor and take off the BP cuff. Using a sphygmomanometer (sfig-mo-man-om-i-ter) and a stethoscope (STETH-uh-skop): A sphygmomanometer is a device for measuring blood pressure. It includes an inflatable cuff, inflating bulb, and a gauge showing the blood pressure. The stethoscope has 2 earpieces, tubing, and a diaphragm (DI-uh-fram) (flat disk at the end). It is used for listening to sounds from the body. Carefully read the directions before using your blood pressure kit. Each blood pressure kit may work in a different way. The following steps may be helpful to take a blood pressure.

3 Helpful tips: Sit up or lie down with the arm stretched out. The arm should be level with the heart. Put the cuff about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the elbow. Wrap the cuff snugly around the arm. The blood pressure reading may not be correct if the cuff is too loose. Put the earpieces in your ears. Using your middle (long) and index (pointer) fingers, gently feel for the pulse in the bend of the elbow. This is the brachial (BRA-kee-ull) artery. You will feel the pulse beating when you find it. Do not use your thumb to feel for the pulse because your thumb has a pulse of its own. Put the diaphragm of the stethoscope over the brachial artery pulse. Listen for the heartbeat. Tighten the screw on the bulb and quickly squeeze and pump the bulb. This will cause the cuff to tighten. Keep squeezing the bulb until the scale on the gauge reads about 160. Or, until the gauge reads at least 10 points higher than when you last hear the heartbeat. Slowly loosen the screw to let air escape from the cuff. Let the gauge fall about 5 points a second. Carefully look at the gauge and listen to the sounds. Remember the number on the gauge where you first heard the thumping sound. Continue to listen and read the gauge at the point where the sound stops. The number of the first sound is the systolic (top number) pressure. The second number is the diastolic (bottom number) pressure. Write down your BP, the date, the time, and which arm was used to take the BP. Let the air out of the cuff. Do not take a blood pressure on an injured arm or an arm that has an IV or a shunt. A woman who has had a breast removed should have her BP taken on the opposite arm Usually a blood pressure should be taken when a person is rested and relaxed. It should not be taken right after exercising or if the person is feeling stressed. Ask the person to sit or lie down for about 2 minutes with the arm stretched out. The person should

4 be relaxed. If you can not feel the pulse, try using the stethoscope. Put the diaphragm of the stethoscope over the bend in the arm. Tighten the screw on the bulb. Squeeze the bulb of the cuff until you see the number 160 on the blood pressure gauge. Slowly loosen the screw on the bulb and listen for the pulse. You may need to move the diaphragm around a bit until you find the pulse. If you cannot hear the pulse, check the reading of the last blood pressure. Then, pump the cuff 10 to 20 points higher than that reading. Wellness hints: Eat healthy foods from all of the 5 food groups: fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, meat and fish. Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. Ask your caregiver if you need to be on a special diet. Drink 6 to 8 cups of liquid each day. Follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. Good liquids to drink are water, juices, and milk. Limit the amount of caffeine you drink, such as coffee, tea, and soda. Talk to your caregiver before you start exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you. It is best to start slowly and do more as you get stronger. Exercising makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy. It is never too late to quit smoking if you smoke. Smoking harms the heart, lungs, and the blood. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information on how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting. Stress may slow healing and cause illness later. Since it is hard to avoid stress, learn to control it. Learn new ways to relax (deep breathing, relaxing muscles, meditation, or biofeedback). Talk to your caregiver about things that upset you. Call your caregiver if: You have questions or concerns about your blood pressure, injury, illness, or medicine. You have nausea (upset stomach) or are vomiting (throwing up). You are dizzy. Your blood pressure is higher or lower than the numbers your caregiver has told you are right for you. Seek care immediately if: You are having chest pain or pressure. You are having problems breathing. You are having trouble thinking clearly. You have a very bad headache that is not going away.

5 CARE AGREEMENT: You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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