7 Tips to Take an Accurate Blood Pressure Reading at Home
If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes or simply high blood pressure, chances are your doctor has advised you to take weekly or daily blood pressure readings with a home blood pressure monitor. But how do we know these readings are accurate? And furthermore, what do those two numbers even mean?
For a quick definition, Harvard Health explains that the top number (systolic pressure) measures artery pressure at the instant the heart beats (when the heart contracts), while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) tracks the pressure between heartbeats (when the heart is resting). They also share the latest normal and high blood pressure guidelines from the Journal of the American Medical Association:
- Among adults age 60 and older with high blood pressure, aim for a target blood pressure under 150/90
- Among adults age 30 to 59 with high blood pressure, aim for a target blood pressure under 140/90
- Among adults with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, aim for a target blood pressure under 140/90
To ensure your blood pressure readings are as accurate as possible, Hired Hands Homecare, which provides dedicated senior care in California, offers the following seven tips:
- Make sure to take the readings at the same time each day.
- Take two or three readings one minute apart and record all three results for better accuracy.
- Have the person sit with her back straight and supported and feet flat on the floor; crossed legs can negatively affect the reading. Place the person’s arm on a flat surface, with the upper arm at heart level.
- Make sure 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, palm facing up, trace a line from the outside of his thumb, up his outer arm to the bend in his elbow. At that bend is the brachial artery.
- The person whose blood pressure you are reading should not smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring blood pressure.
- The person should also remain silent and still during the reading.
- Have the person go to the bathroom prior to the reading, as a full bladder can raise your systolic pressure.
Consumer Reports has a helpful blood pressure monitor buying guide that tells you what you should look for in a good home monitor.
And for a fun, interactive guide to understanding and managing high blood pressure, check out the American Heart Association’s booklet.
If you or a loved one struggles with maintaining healthy blood pressure, Hired Hands Homecare can help – from planning and preparing healthy meals, to picking up prescriptions and providing medication reminders, to helping a person stay active, and more. We provide in home care in Novato, Santa Rosa, Napa, Pleasanton and many more cities in California. To learn more about our home healthcare services and how we can help your loved one maintain a healthy life, or to set up a free comprehensive consultation, contact us today at (866) 940-4343.
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