Anyone who suffers from hypertension, high blood pressure, knows that it’s important to check blood pressure at home regularly. However, other people can benefit from being able to manually determine their blood pressure since having too high or low of a result can be a symptom of underlying conditions. The American Heart Association, a reliable medical organization, recommends that individuals learn how to do so at home to manage any diagnosed conditions and preserve health.
When taking your blood pressure, you need either an inflatable cuff or a gage for readouts. These two devices are available from most pharmacies and will give you accurate results when used properly. Any device with a digital readout is considered the best, especially if it can be fitted around the upper arm without being too loose or squeezing the flesh.
Once you have the right tools, there are several tips and tricks you can follow to get accurate results every time. The first and perhaps most important is to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages or smoking for at least 30 minutes before a reading. This is because both caffeinated drinks and smoking – of any substances – raise the blood pressure over a short period of time and will produce inaccurate results.
The second tip is to avoid physical activity for 5 minutes before performing a test. Moving around and getting the heart pumping are essential activities for health but can once again skew results since they increase blood pressure over a short period of time. Try not to take your blood pressure right after activity or when you are in an excited state. It can be difficult but sit still for a few minutes before trying to get a readout.
Third, make sure you are in the right position and are placing the cuff or gage correctly. Doctors and other medical professionals recommend that an individual sit with both feet flat on the floor and their arm supported at the elbow. This could mean sitting in an armchair with the arm you plan to use for the reading propped up next to you. Try to sit in a relaxed position without tensing your muscles or forcing yourself to sit uncomfortably upright.
When placing an inflatable cuff, make sure it is wrapped directly around the skin and is not being blocked by fabric. Roll up your sleeves if you have to. When choosing a cuff, you need to find one that covers around 80% of your upper arm to get an accurate result; otherwise, it won’t measure the pressure correctly. You can usually try a cuff at a store before you purchase, or you should bring your upper arm measurements with you when going to the pharmacy.
To get the best results, follow the fifth and final tip – take two measurements. Once you have gotten a single reading, wait five minutes, and then try again. Do not get up, drink any caffeinated beverages, or move around. The goal is to try and get an accurate result by testing the inflatable cuff or gage. If you perform the reading twice and get results that are 5 points apart or more, you need to do a third reading. If the result is still wildly different, your equipment is most likely broken and needs to be replaced.
To review, the five tips you should follow are:
These five tips will make taking blood pressure a breeze and can help you better monitor any current health conditions you are managing at home. To better manage any of the conditions you have, consider avoiding activity that could increase your blood pressure over a long time, including regular smoking or the frequent consumption of beverages like coffee or soda.
If you are concerned about your results, consult an ER near you, such as the Ascent Emergency Room in Houston.