If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes or simply high blood pressure, chances are your doctor has advised you to take ongoing, regularly scheduled blood pressure readings with a home blood pressure monitor. Yet how do you know that the readings you take are dependable? And besides, what do those numbers even mean?
For a straightforward definition, Harvard Health shares that the top number (systolic pressure) measures artery pressure at the precise instant the heart beats (as your heart contracts), while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) tracks the pressure between heartbeats (when the heart is resting). The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association’s guidelines for normal and high blood pressure are:
Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
- Be sure to take readings at the exact same time every single day.
- Take a few readings one minute apart and record all results for the best accuracy.
- Before the reading, have the person sit with her back straight and supported and both feet flat on the floor; crossed legs can negatively affect the reading. Place the person’s arm on a flat surface, with the upper arm at the same level as her heart.
- Be sure the middle of the cuff is situated directly over the person’s brachial artery and fits correctly. To find the brachial artery, with the person’s arm out, with the palm facing up, trace a line from the outside of her thumb, up her outer arm to the elbow’s bend. At that bend is the brachial artery.
- The person whose blood pressure you are reading should avoid smoking, drinking caffeinated beverages, and exercising within 30 minutes before measuring blood pressure.
- The person should also stay silent and still during the reading.
- Have the person use the bathroom right before the reading, as a full bladder can elevate the systolic pressure.
Consumer Reports has a helpful blood pressure monitor buyer’s guide that outlines what you should look for in a good home blood pressure monitor.
If you or a loved one is challenged by maintaining healthy blood pressure, Live Well at Home can help – from planning and preparing healthier meals, to picking up prescriptions and ensuring medications are taken exactly as prescribed, to helping a person remain more physically active, and much more. We provide professional home care services in Lincoln, California and the surrounding areas, and are always here to help your loved one maintain a healthy life. To learn more, or to set up a free in-depth consultation, contact us today online or call us at 916-459-3220.