Blood pressure (BP) is the amount of force exerted against the inner walls of the arteries and blood vessels. It is maintained by the elasticity of the diameter of the vessels and arterial walls, and also by the thickness in consistency and volume of the blood.
When the arteries become narrow and constricted, it is then that the blood pressure rises and possible damage to the arteries is expected. The pressure of the blood is a very important factor in keeping the heart and other vital organs healthy and the body in a normal state.
Any abnormalities in the blood pressure affect the entire condition of the body. Blood Pressure readings are always highest in the morning and lowest in the evenings.
We’ll look today at how to check blood pressure any equipment at home although this is not really your best option. We’ll also show you how to make use of monitoring gear for a more accurate result.
Before that, though, we’ll walk you through some of the basics of blood pressure…
Two Types of Blood Pressure
This is medically defined as the pressure exerted within the arteries while the heart is pumping. It is the first loudest sound that you can hear using a stethoscope.
Systolic pressure is also the top number of the two readings to be written. It is always the higher number.
The normal BP for systolic pressure in adults is less than 120 mmHg.
This is the type of pressure inside the arteries when the heart is in a resting phase in between beats. This is the last loudest sound that you can hear when you check the BP.
Diastolic pressure is the bottom number of the BP reading result and is always the lower number.
The normal reading for diastolic pressure in adults is less than 80 mmHg.
Blood Pressure Categories
Normal Blood Pressure
Normal blood pressure is extremely important. When your BP reading is normal, everything is therefore normal. You feel healthy and strong with no body discomfort whatsoever.
This feeling of wellbeing is because there is adequate flow of oxygen to your body. There is no blood flow constriction and the nutrients are being distributed throughout your whole circulatory system.
A normal BP reading in adults is listed as 100/60 to 120/80 mmHg.
For infants, it ranges from 75/50 to 100/70 mmHg.
For children, the normal range is 80/50 to 110/80 mmHg with 95/60 to 140/90 mmHg for teens.
Low Blood Pressure/Hypotension
Low blood pressure usually doesn’t pose much of a concern unless it provokes symptoms of dizziness, fainting and weakness. In this case, doctors prescribe iron supplements and a more iron-rich food intake. For some people, this condition is still manageable and doesn’t hinder their daily lives.
A blood pressure of 90/60 and lower is considered as hypotension.
Blood pressure of 80/50 in adults can even cause a stroke in some patients and may lead to a serious condition such as coma if not treated right away. This is actually an emergency case.
Pre-High Blood Pressure/ Pre-Hypertension
This category comes with a reading of 120/80 to 139/89.
This stage is not yet considered as full-blown hypertension but it’s almost there. Patients are advised to take a 3-day rest from work or school, to eat sensibly and drink lots of water. A glass of diluted but real pineapple juice, lemon or orange also helps to lower the blood pressure back within its normal range.
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
This is when the blood pressure recordings are in the 140/90 bracket and higher.
There are instances when a patient’s blood pressure rises whenever they are checked by a doctor but when they are at home it is normal, even if they are tired. This is what health professionals term as White Coat Syndrome. Patients become stressed when they see a doctor. This in turns causes their blood pressure to rise.
This is the reason doctors recommend that these patients buy a Blood Pressure Monitoring device to record their blood pressure at home. It’s essential to determine if the person is really hypertensive or not before prescribing high blood medications. High blood pressure is a serious, life threatening disease.
DO YOU KNOW?
17 May is dedicated to World Hypertension Day.
"The WHD was first inaugurated in May 2005 and has become an annual event ever since. The purpose of the WHD is to promote public awareness of hypertension and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer, the modern epidemic."
(Source: International Society of Hypertension)
The doctors usually try to treat the patient with a two-week prescription of high blood drugs, diet and rest. After the two-week period, the patient is withdrawn from medication. If the condition persists without the drugs then the patient will be a candidate for maintenance hypertension drugs.
Important Note: There are some considerations in BP readings when it comes to the weight of the patient. For instance, if the adult patient is underweight, a BP recording of 90/60 is normal and a 120/80 is high.
A slight rise in blood pressure doesn’t always mean that a person is hypertensive. There are many factors to consider and lab tests are carried out to determine what is causing the high blood pressure.
There are two main reasons for a high rise in blood pressure and they are as follows…
This is mainly due to stress and intense emotions like fear, anger, pain, sadness, tiredness and depression. When you are feeling any of these extreme emotions, blood pressure is likely to rise. This is nothing to be scared of since the blood pressure will eventually go down when you have calmed down. Rest and a glass of water is all that’s required.
Important Note: If the BP is still recorded as high after you are calm and rested then you are already hypertensive.
This factor gives cause for concern in both the doctor and the patient.
Blood Pressure rises in this case if the person has any of these issues:
- Heart disease
- Kidney problems
- High cholesterol
- High sodium and uric acid content in the blood
- Excessive drinking
- Clogging in the arteries
This is called secondary hypertension.
Heredity is also a contributing factor. If one of your parents is hypertensive, even if you live a healthy lifestyle, you may inherit the disease once you hit your 40s or even as early as your 30s.
Age plays a major role too when the person is in their 50s, even without any health issues. This one is called essential hypertension.
Such factors can lead to full-time hypertension with a lifetime of maintenance drugs prescribed to control the blood pressure. In these cases, daily blood pressure monitoring is a must. The patient doesn’t need to go to the doctor’s clinic everyday though. Having a regular blood pressure check at home is sufficient to keep a close eye on things. They will be advised to purchase their own Blood Pressure monitoring equipment. Check our doctors' recommendation.
Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure / Hypertension InfoGraphic
In line with this, we will tackle below how to monitor blood pressure at home with or without equipment.
Ways to Check Blood Pressure at Home
Blood pressure is read according to millimeters of mercury or what is termed as mmHg. This is done using monitoring equipment to accurately get the actual blood pressure reading of a patient.
BP Monitoring with Equipment
This is carried out to accurately get the actual blood pressure reading of a patient using monitoring equipment known as a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope.
Below are types of blood pressure monitoring devices used to acquire such data…
Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring Devices/ABPM
This is most commonly used if there is a significant disparity between the blood pressure readings acquired at home and at a doctor’s clinic.
It is a small device worn by the patient at home or anywhere he goes. It also shows the blood pressure readings automatically and accurately every thirty minutes even if the patient is asleep. This device is usually given to pregnant women and patients with the so-called White Coat Syndrome discussed above.
ABPM comes with an arm cuff or wrist cuff and should be worn the whole day even while doing chores and exercises.
Automatic BP Monitoring Equipment
This is the other name for the digital and electronic blood pressure monitoring devices. They come with a microphone and cuffs that detects the pulsating blood in the arteries.
Just press the start button and the cuffs automatically inflate and it does the monitoring itself. This also has a wrist-monitoring cuff but reports say that the arm cuff takes blood pressure more accurately than this one.
Manual Blood Pressure Monitoring Tools
These are the conventional types of blood pressure monitors. They are the ones widely used at the doctor’s clinic or in hospitals. It’s by far the most accurate of all. It comes with an arm cuff, stethoscope, a squeeze bulb and a mercury gauge to measure the blood pressure.
Measuring is done while the cuff is wrapped on the upper arm and the bulb is squeezed while the stethoscope is placed on the skin where the brachial artery is located just below the upper arm.
The first loudest sound or pulse beat you hear from the stethoscope is the systolic pressure and the second or last sound is the diastolic blood pressure reading.
Monitoring BP without an Equipment
Caution: Monitoring blood pressure at home without Blood Pressure monitoring equipment is never entirely accurate. People who favor this method should also watch out for high blood and low blood symptoms to support the result. This step is taught but not very widely accepted. It is merely to give patients a rough idea of their blood pressure level to avoid any wrong assumptions.
There are a few things to consider if you wish to check your blood pressure at home without monitoring equipment.
Your doctor should be notified you want to do it without a device. Your cardiologist will tell you when and how to do it.
Here are certain methods on how to monitor your blood pressure without any monitoring equipment. You will do it through artery palpation.
First, you have to locate the radial pulse of the other hand with your index and middle fingers. You may use whichever hand suits you. The radial artery is at the wrist at the lower arm. Palpate your wrist to feel the pulse.
Now, when you locate the pulse, feel how strong it is…
If the pulse seems moderate, the systolic measurement is 80 mmHg.
If the pulse seems weak it is about 60 to 70 mmHg.
And, if the pulse is very palpable, you have a systolic measurement higher than 80 mmHg.
This artery is located at the groin.
Feel for a pulse slightly below the groin and above the thigh. A strong pulse means the systolic measurement is about 70 to 80 mmHg.
This is the artery along the voice box inside the neck.
The pulse here is usually very palpable since it is nearer the heart. Press the artery slightly to feel the pulse as to not block the oxygen from getting into the brain.
Getting a strong, palpable pulse means the systolic pressure is 70 to 80 mmHg.
When taking blood pressure without using any medical equipment, you need to know that there is no way the diastolic blood pressure can be measured. It is only the systolic blood pressure measurement that can be checked. Diastolic blood pressure can only be measured using a cuff.
Blood pressure monitoring is highly important, especially to patients with known blood pressure problems.
It is always recommended to consult your doctor and have your Blood Pressure checked professionally.
You should also try to acquire a monitoring device suitable to your budget and needs. As research shows, artery palpation methods are not a very effective step to use. It can help at some point but best not to rely much on doing it often.
We hope that with this simple information, we have supplied you with ample knowledge about blood pressure and methods on how to monitor it.
If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please feel free to contact us.
- Diseases and Conditions- High blood pressure (hypertension) at MayoClinices.org
- Heart Disease Facts at CDV.org
- Blood pressure: What is normal? at MedicalNewsToday
- Blood Pressure Chart at BloodpressureUK
- Global Health Observatory (GHO) data at WHO.int
- High Blood Pressure at Heat.org
- Understanding Blood Pressure Readings at Heart.org
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