Blood pressure (BP) is an important and informative vital sign. It’s value is constantly changing which makes it difficult to assess, but a baseline BP reading can be valuable information for both patients and healthcare practitioners. A person’s baseline BP can be obtained by taking measurements every day over a period one week and calculating the average. It used to be that patients waited to see their doctor for a BP reading; new data suggests that, instead of waiting, it may be best for people to manage BP readings at home. We at Alliance are experts at obtaining, recording and analyzing BP measurements. Nonetheless, it’s important that our clients understand the basics. Here are some tips for monitoring BP accurately at home:
• Time of measurement: Remember, BP should be taken around the same time for, at least, seven consecutive days. We recommend two readings per day, once in the morning and once in the evening. If you take hypertensive medication, take the BP reading at least thirty minutes before the medication. Food, strenuous exercise, caffeine and nicotine should also be avoided in the thirty minutes prior to BP readings as they can affect accuracy.
• Cuff size: The proper cuff size is essential for accuracy. Measure the circumference of the upper arm, midway between the shoulder and elbow, and find the corresponding cuff size. Most automated BP monitors available in stores follow the American Heart Association guidelines:
Arm Circumference —> Cuff Size
22-26 cm (adult small) —> 12 X 22 cm
27-24 cm (adult) —> 16 x 30 cm
35-44 cm (adult large) —> 16 x 36 cm
45-52 cm (adult thigh) —> 16 x 42 cm
• Patient position: BP should be taken in a seated position with the back supported and the legs uncrossed. Both feet should rest gently on the floor. The arm should be placed at the level of the heart; use a table, desk or sofa arm for support. It’s important to take a few deep breathes, relax and maintain a quiet environment. Even the smallest talk can lead to imprecise measurements. Always use the bathroom before sitting down.
Blood pressure is deceivingly simple. In reality, home monitoring should be precisely regimented and recorded. It’s always wise to consult an expert. We’re here to help. If you have any questions or concerns about evaluating your blood pressure at home, contact us today.