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You Can Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home: Learn How by HealthFixHub: 4:45pm On Oct 25, 2018

Knowing how to measure blood pressure at home is a helpful and important skill to learn. It is especially important for persons who have been diagnosed with hypertension or any other disease capable of influencing blood pressure.

Whether you have an issue that warrants you monitoring your blood pressure or not, learning how to measure your blood pressure at home will be most useful to you. Here are some reasons why:

#1 It will help diagnose hypertension and negative symptoms that mimic the symptoms of hypertension – on time. Remember what “they,” say about a stitch in time?
#2 Knowing how to measure your blood pressure at home can be a good way to monitor recovery progress during treatment.
#3 It is a great way of identifying complications and building a wall with swift emergency treatment.
#4 Saves you the stress, time and money associated with leaving your home to visit a doctor especially when you only need to check your blood pressure
#5 It also helps in identifying white coat hypertension.

These are but a few reasons to help sink the importance of learning to measure blood pressure at home. Nonetheless, if you’re unshaken by the importance listed above, perhaps one more might change your mind. Here: If you learn how to measure blood pressure at home, you could be of immense help to someone someday.

Before we dive into the details of how to measure blood pressure at home, it’s important you know what blood pressure is.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force or pressure with which blood pumped by the heart pushes against the walls of the arteries. Blood is pumped into the arteries and throughout the entire body with each heartbeat.

What is the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure?

If you’ve seen a recorded blood pressure reading, you must have noticed the reading to look like this: 120/80. It is always recorded as 2 numbers as seen and read like this: 120 over 80. The top number (in this sample: 120/80) is called the systolic pressure while the lower number is called the diastolic pressure.

Because the heart beats, and is what’s responsible for pumping blood through arteries, blood flow is not steady. The flow is pulsatile in nature, changing with the beating moments and the ‘rest’ moments of the heart. This pulsating flow is what brings about recording the measurement of a person’s blood pressure as two numbers.

Systolic pressure is the pressure exerted on the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood (during a heartbeat). On the other hand, Diastolic pressure is the pressure on the arteries when the heart is at rest (in-between heartbeats).

Things needed to measure blood pressure at home

To measure blood pressure at home, you will need to have the following:

# Stethoscope
# Sphygmomanometer
# A chair and a table.

Generally, measuring blood pressure involves two important phases. These two phases include:

# Palpatory phase
# Auscultatory phase

The palpatory phase involves inflating the cuff around the arm of the person whose blood pressure is to be measured while using the fingers to feel for the radial pulse. The stethoscope is not used at this phase. Again, the purpose for this phase is to help you determine the extent to which you inflate the cuff without inflicting pain during the auscultatory phase.

A lot of people skip the first phase even when it affects the accuracy of the results obtained. In this post, we will address both phases.

Procedure for measuring blood pressure

# Place the chair beside the table such that person whose blood pressure is to be measured at home can sit and place his/her arm (left preferably, because it’s closer to the heart) on the table.
# Place the arm of the person whose blood pressure is to be measured flat with it resting on the elbow. It should be placed with the palm facing up as seen in the picture above.
# Place the sphygmomanometer beside the arm on the table, open it and bring down the knob inside to unlock it (for mercury sphygmomanometer).
# Let the person whose blood pressure is to be measured (presently sitting) relax for at least two minutes. This is done to let the heart go back to its normal rate.
# Now, take the cuff out and wrap it snugly around the arm placed on the table. Make sure that the arrow on the cuff lies above the path of the brachial artery on the inner side of the arm, just above the elbow.

Make sure the cuff isn’t too small for the arm else you will get a false high reading. It’s also important that the cuff isn’t too big to avoid getting a false low reading.

First part – palpatory phase

This involves placing the pulp of your left four fingers on the outer aspect of the wrist -of the left arm- of the person whose blood pressure is to be measured.

Can you feel the pulsation? If yes, leave your fingers there and use your right hand to inflate the cuff. Be sure to tighten the valve on the side of the bulb before you pump. Meanwhile, keep your eyes on the sphygmomanometer calibration as you inflate the cuff – till you stop feeling the pulse. The disappearance of the pulse means the artery is completely occluded (closed).

The reading at which you stop feeling the pulse gives you an idea of what your systolic blood pressure should be. It also tells you how much you need to inflate the cuff to avoid inflicting pain during the auscultatory phase.

Deflate the cuff after taking the reading and get ready to re-pump for the auscultatory phase of the process. What do you think about this first part? Hopefully, you can already see that it’s not so difficult to measure blood pressure at home after all.

Second part – auscultatory phase

Inflate the cuff again. But this time, about 20mmHg – 30mmHg higher than the reading at which you stopped feeling the pulse during the palpatory phase. For example, if you stopped feeling the pulse at 120mmHg, you will pump up to 150mmHg (i.e. 30mmHg more).

Unlike in the palpatory phase where the pulp of the left fingers are used to feel the pulse, in the auscultatory phase a stethoscope is used.

Moving ahead, place the *diaphragm of your stethoscope on the cubital fossa/ventral aspect of the elbow as in the image above. Also, place the earpiece of the stethoscope in your ear. Now, release the pressure from the cuff little by little by loosening the valve on the side of the bulb a little at a time.

The diaphragm of a stethoscope is the wider side of the two flat, circular parts. It contains a thin plastic.

Listen carefully for the first sound (thumping sound also known as korotkoff sound) you hear. Note the Sphygmomanometer reading at the exact moment you hear the korotkoff sound, it is your systolic blood pressure. It coincides with the opening up of the previously occluded artery. Keep listening, the reading at which the sound stops is your diastolic blood pressure.

There you have it, the blood pressure is systolic over the diastolic pressure in millimeter mercury (mmHg). E.g. 120/80 mmHg where 120 is the systolic and 80 is the diastolic blood pressure.

Blood pressure readings and their implication

As seen in the chart above, a blood pressure reading of 130-139/80-90mmHg and above means you’re hypertensive. Learn more about hypertension and its risk factors here.

[b]Final note[/b]

No matter how far below 120/80mmHg your blood pressure is, there is no cause for alarm. Just as long as there are no associated symptoms like dizziness, fainting spells, fast and shallow breathing, weakness or blurred vision, you’re good. If any of these symptoms are present, it’s advisable to see a doctor.

It’s always advisable to discard the first blood pressure reading and take the second reading or an average of the second and third reading. This is because the first reading might be high due to anxiety.

See? It isn’t that difficult to measure blood pressure at home.

Source - https://www.healthfixhub.com/2018/09/21/how-to-measure-blood-pressure-at-home/

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