If you were diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, chances are your health care provider has suggested taking blood pressure at home, with regularly scheduled readings using a home blood pressure monitor. Yet how do you know that these readings are correct? And furthermore, what do those numbers even mean?
For a short definition, Harvard Health shares that the top number (systolic pressure) measures artery pressure at the precise instant the heart beats (every time your heart contracts), while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) monitors the pressure in between heartbeats (when the heart is resting). The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association outlines normal and high blood pressure as follows:
- Normal: Below 120/80 mm Hg
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic below 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
Hypertensive crisis: Systolic above 180 and/or diastolic above 120, with patients requiring an immediate change in medication if there are no other problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are any indications of damage to organs.
To ensure your blood pressure readings are as precise as possible, Advanced Home Health Care, which provides home care and dementia care Burlington and the surrounding area trusts, offers the following seven tips for taking blood pressure at home:
- Make certain to take the readings at the exact same time every day.
- Take a few readings one minute apart and document all results for the highest level of accuracy.
- Before each reading, have the person sit with her back straight and supported and feet flat on the floor; crossing the legs can negatively influence the reading. Put the person’s arm on a flat surface, with the upper arm at heart level.
- Make certain the middle of the cuff is placed directly over the person’s brachial artery and fits properly. To find the brachial artery, with the person’s arm out, with the palm facing up, trace a line from the outside of the thumb, up her outer arm to the bend in her elbow. 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 prior to measuring blood pressure.
- The person should also stay silent and still all through the reading.
- Have the person use the restroom right before the reading, because a full bladder can raise the systolic pressure.
Consumer Reports offers a beneficial blood pressure monitor buyer’s guide that explains what you should look for in a good home monitor.
If you or a loved one is challenged by maintaining healthy blood pressure, Advanced Home Health Care can help – from planning and preparing nutritious meals, to picking up prescriptions and ensuring medications are taken exactly as prescribed, to helping a person stay more active, and more. We provide professional home care services in Mount Pleasant and throughout much of Iowa and are always available to help your loved one maintain a healthy life. To learn more, or to set up a free in-depth consultation, get in touch with us today at 800.791.7785.