How to take Blood Pressure Manually ?
(Introductions about sphygmomanometer)
Needless to say, having your blood pressure checked regularly by a medical professional is never a bad idea. However, many of us unfortunately suffer from a condition referred to as white coat hypertension- a state of anxiety brought about when approached by a medic with a stethoscope – which results in skyrocketing blood pressure levels. Checking your own blood pressure levels in the confines of your home can eliminate such anxiety thereby allowing you to estimate your average blood pressure in real-life, day-to-day situations. Below, therefore, we take a look at how to check your blood pressure with, arguably, the best blood pressure monitor around as follows:
A. Sphygmomanometer Setup
Begin by sitting down at a desk or table where the sphygmomanometer equipment can be set up. Remove the stethoscope, bulb (bladder), cuff, and pressure gauge from the kit whilst exercising care as you untangle the various tubes. Next, elevate your arm and ensure that when your elbow is bent, it is parallel to the heart. This is done in order to avoid underestimated or overestimated readings on blood pressure.
Thereafter, roll up your sleeve and wrap the cuff around the upper part of the arm (use your right arm if you are left-handed and vice versa), making sure that its bottom edge is about an inch above the elbow. The Velcro in the cuff should make it easier to secure it in place. Additionally, the cuff should not be too tight or too loose as you are likely to record inaccurately high or low blood pressure readings respectively. This should also be observed when using an auto-wrist blood pressure monitor.
Lastly, place the stethoscope’s head (diaphragm) against your arm’s skin with its edge directly beneath the cuff and directly over the brachial artery. The stethoscope’s earpieces should also be gently paced in the ears. Remember, the stethoscope ought to be held in place by the index and middle fingers as doing so with your thumb may confuse you as you try to obtain a reading as the thumb has a pulse of its own. Also, it is important to have the pressure gauge attached to something sturdy such as a table in order to provide stability while taking readings.
B. How to take Blood Pressure manually
The first step is to inflate the cuff by rapidly pumping the bulb. You should keep at it until the needle on the gauge has a reading of 180mmHg. And since the cuff’s pressure occludes a large artery in your bicep, you are likely to feel a little strange or uncomfortable. Then, gently turn the bulb’s valve counter-clockwise to slowly release the air in the cuff while keeping an eye on the gauge. For accurate results, the needle ought to be moving downwards at a rate of 3mm with each passing second.
As the pressure continues to drop, use the stethoscope to listen out for a knocking or thumping sound (clinically referred to as Korotkoff sounds). And upon hearing the first knock, take down the reading on the pressure gauge. This is what is commonly referred to as systolic blood pressure and represents the pressure that blood flow exerts on your artery walls after the heart contracts or beats. It is usually the higher number that appears at the top whenever blood pressure readings are written down.
With your eyes still fixed on the gauge as you listen to the thumping noises on the stethoscope, they are soon likely to be replaced by a whooshing’ sound. It is vital to note when this change occurs as this is an indication that your diastolic blood pressure is close. And as soon as the whooshing subsides and everything goes quiet, note down the reading on the pressure gauge. This is the diastolic blood pressure and signifies the pressure exerted on arterial walls as the heart relaxes in between contractions. It is the lower number of the two blood pressure readings and is usually at the bottom.
Since blood pressure is known to fluctuate within minutes of taking a reading (sometimes dramatically), it is advisable to check again after about ten minutes of the first go in order to come up with a more accurate number. Alternatively, you may switch the cuff to your other arm, especially if the first reading was a tad abnormal.
C. Interpretation of Results – Sphygmomanometer
Having recorded your blood pressure readings on your sphygmomanometer, it is important to know what the numbers signify. For normal blood pressure, the systolic number ought to be less than 120, with the diastolic number being under 80. Systolic numbers of over 180 coupled with diastolic numbers higher than 110 are usually indicative of a hypertensive crisis. More importantly, however, even if your blood pressure readings are fall below the normal standard of 120/80mmHg, there should be no cause for alarm as a reading of, say, 80/50mmHg is still deemed normal so long as you are not exhibiting any symptoms of low blood pressure such as lightheadedness, nausea, dizziness, dehydration, fatigue, and/or blurred vision.
Above all, it is vital to know when to seek treatment as a single high blood pressure reading does not mean that you are at risk of hypertension. It could be that you took the readings after exercising or that the cuff was placed too tight on your arm. However, should your readings be consistently higher than 140/90mmHg, it would be prudent to consult a doctor who can then put you on a treatment plan- usually a combination of exercise and healthy eating. Conversely, if you get a reading of 180/110mmHg or higher, wait for a few minutes before checking your pressure again. Should you find that the readings are still the same following a second attempt, contact your nearest emergency medical services immediately as you may be suffering from severe hypertension which, if untreated, could result in a stroke.
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