Learning how to take blood pressure manually may be necessary if you have chronically high or low blood pressure. Your doctor may request that you take your blood pressure once or twice a day or before taking a medication that has blood pressure parameters.
Follow your physician’s instructions regarding when you need to take your BP and how often. Remember that there are certain factors that will cause your blood pressure to rise temporarily. Blood pressure will normally rise as a result of exercise, a full stomach, smoking, stress, cold temperatures, caffeine, certain medications or a full bladder.
How to Get an Accurate BP Diastolic and Systolic Reading
If your doctor has ordered you to take your blood pressure daily, then you should do so at the same time each day.
• If you are right-handed take your blood pressure on your left arm. If you’re left-handed you’ll place the BP cuff on your right arm.
• You can locate your pulse by pressing lightly on the inside center of the bend in your elbow. The cuff should fit the arm snugly. Next, make sure that the head of the stethoscope is placed over the artery.
• The next step is inflating the BP cuff. To do, hold the pressure gauge in one hand and the bulb in the other. Squeeze the bulb several times in order to inflate the cuff, keeping a close eye on the gauge as you do so. The cuff should be inflated until the gauge reads around thirty-five point’s mmHg above your regular systolic pressure.
• Next, release the pressure in the cuff by slowly opening the airflow valve. You’ll need to be in a quiet area so that you can listen for the first heartbeat. The first heartbeat you hear will be the systolic number. Continue to deflate the cuff, listening for the last heartbeat, which will be the diastolic number.
• If you’ve never taken your own blood pressure before, then you may need to take it several times before you get the hang of releasing the valve slowly or hearing the first and last heartbeats. If you release the valve too quickly don’t inflate the cuff right away. You’ll need to wait sixty seconds before retaking your blood pressure.
Orthostatic Blood Pressure
According to studies, orthostatic hypotension is the leading cause of falls in the elderly. Signs of this condition are often felt after sitting for an undetermined length of time. Doing so will cause the blood to pool in the lower extremities. In some patients, the blood will take longer to return to the heart when moving from a sitting or lying down position to a standing position. This will cause the patient to become dizzy or lightheaded and lose their balance. A physician may ask you to take a number of BP readings throughout the day, in order to monitor the differences in your BP as you change positions.
What Causes Orthostatic Hypotension?
Orthostatic hypotension describes an extreme drop in a person’s BP, which will occur when they stand up, causing the blood to pool in the legs. Because of the pooling, the amount of blood that is carried back to the heart is significantly decreased. Once this condition has been diagnosed, a physician will ask the patient or their caregiver to take their orthostatic blood pressure once in the morning and once at night, typically before a meal or before taking a medication.
What is Postural Hypotension?
This condition involves a chronic drop in blood pressure that occurs when a person changes positions from lying down to standing, or when they stand up from a sitting position. This condition can cause a person to feel lightheaded and dizzy. In severe cases, it may even cause a person to faint.
This type of fluctuation in blood pressure can last for a few seconds or a few minutes. Long-lasting postural hypotension can indicate a serious underlying medical problem which is why it’s important to seek medical attention if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms for a period of more than one week. Occasional postural hypotension is fairly common and can be caused by sleeping too much or from dehydration. Chronic postural hypotension can be a sign of an underlying heart problem.
Other common symptoms of chronic postural hypotension include:
• Blurred vision
• General weakness
• Lightheadedness each time you stand up
• Fainting spells
• Mild to moderate confusion
If you’ve been diagnosed with postural hypotension, your doctor will request that you take your orthostatic blood pressure once or twice a day. This is done in order to help your physician to determine the underlying cause.
How to Take Orthostatic BP
• To take a person’s orthostatic blood pressure they will need to first lie down. Have them stay in this reclined position for five to ten minutes. After this period of time, their BP will have settled to a normal reading. Place the BP cuff on their upper arm, between the elbow and shoulder and make sure that it fits snugly. Their arm should be bent slightly.
• Next, locate the valve on the bulb and turn it clockwise until it’s completely closed. Place the stethoscope in your ears and the head of the stethoscope on the inside of the elbow. Squeeze the bulb, pumping it up until it reads two hundred and then slowly release the valve on the bulb, listening for the first heartbeat, which will be the systolic number. Continue to listen for the last heartbeat, which will be the diastolic number.
• Next, have the patient sit upright. Wait for a period of five to ten minutes, before attempting to take their blood pressure again. After you have taken their sitting BP, record it.
• Next, you will have the patient stand. Take their BP while standing and record the results. When comparing the readings, you will notice that the blood pressure shows a significant difference when the patient was sitting, lying, and standing. These readings will provide the doctor with valuable information that will help them create an effective treatment plan that can prevent significant fluctuations in blood pressure.
Following Doctor Recommendations
If you’re not sure how to take your blood pressure manually, you can also speak with your physician. Your doctor will work with you to teach you how to take your blood pressure manually, the correct way in order to get accurate results. They will also discuss what time of day to take your blood pressure, and how often. Closely monitoring your blood pressure daily is done in order to allow your doctor to determine exactly why you’re experiencing fluctuations in blood pressure, or how your body is responding to a new medication.