If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, most likely your doctor has encouraged you to monitor your blood pressure at home on a daily or weekly basis with a home blood pressure monitor. Yet how do you know that the readings you take are accurate? And what’s more, what do those numbers even mean?
For a brief definition, Harvard Health explains that the top number (systolic pressure) measures artery pressure at the moment the heart beats (as the heart contracts), while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) monitors the pressure between heartbeats (when your 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
Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.
To confirm your blood pressure readings are as precise as possible, San Diego Home Caregivers offers the following tips below:
- Make a point to take readings at the same time each day.
- Take a couple of readings one minute apart and record all results for the highest level precision.
- Prior to the reading, make sure the person is sitting with her back straight and supported and feet flat on the floor; crossed legs can negatively influence the reading. Place the person’s arm on a flat surface, with the upper arm at the level of her heart.
- Make certain the middle of the cuff is positioned directly over the person’s brachial artery and fits correctly. To find the brachial artery, with the person’s arm stretched out, 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 not exercise, drink caffeinated beverages, or smoke within 30 minutes preceding measuring blood pressure.
- The person should also remain silent and still during the reading.
- Have the person use the restroom prior to the reading, as a full bladder can elevate the systolic pressure.
Consumer Reports provides a beneficial blood pressure monitor buying guide that outlines what you should look for in a good home monitor.
If you or a loved one has a problem with maintaining healthy blood pressure, San Diego Home Caregivers 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 as active as possible, and much more. We provide professional at home nursing care in San Diego and the surrounding areas, and are always on hand to help your loved one maintain a healthy life. To learn more, or to set up an in-depth consultation, call our San Diego senior home care experts at (619) 487-9000.