If you were diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, chances are your physician has advised you to take ongoing, regularly scheduled blood pressure readings with a home blood pressure monitor. Yet how can you be sure the readings you take are accurate? And besides, what do those two numbers even mean?
For a straightforward definition, Harvard Health explains that the top number (systolic pressure) measures artery pressure at the precise instant the heart beats (as the heart contracts), while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) monitors the pressure in between heartbeats (when the heart is at rest). 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
To verify your blood pressure readings are as precise as possible, Partners in Senior Care, which provides the respite care Wilmette, IL families trust, suggests the following seven tips:
- Make sure to take blood pressure readings at the same time every single day.
- Take a couple of readings one minute apart and record all results for the highest degree of precision.
- Have the person sit with her back straight and supported and both feet flat on the floor; crossed legs can negatively impact the reading. Place the person’s arm on a flat surface, with the upper arm at heart level.
- Ensure that the middle of the cuff is placed 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 the 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 remain silent and still throughout the reading.
- Have the person go to the bathroom right before the reading, as a full bladder can raise the systolic pressure.
Consumer Reports provides a beneficial blood pressure monitor buying guide that tells you what you should look for in a good home blood pressure monitor.
If you or a loved one has a problem with maintaining healthy blood pressure, Partners in Senior Care can help – from planning and preparing healthy 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 specialized respite care services in Wilmette, IL and the surrounding area, and are always on hand to help your loved one maintain a healthy life. To learn more, or to set up a free extensive consultation, call us today at 847-548-1330.