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Whether you take your own blood pressure at home using a manual sphygmomanometer or by turning to an automated blood pressure monitor, it’s very important to follow the tips required for an accurate reading.

Blood pressure is one of the four vital signs that can indicate a person’s current health state. When the blood pressure reading is accurate, it can provide information on how blood circulated through the arteries. High blood pressure intervals could indicate hypertension, so it’s always best to measure your blood pressure at least twice before jumping to any conclusions, especially if the results are high.

Manual blood pressure insight

There are two main methods for checking your blood pressure, and one of them is the manual way. For that, you will need two tools: a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope.

The first one is a device that’s made of three main elements: an inflatable cuff that goes around the arm, a squeezable balloon for pumping air into the cuff, plus a pressure gauge, which is known as an aneroid monitor, with a number dial for reading the systolic and diastolic pressure.

The stethoscope is a simple listening device that’s used in a doctor’s office for a lot of different routine checkups. It helps the doctor listen to what’s going on inside your body, to potentially identify any health issues.

Taking your own blood pressure can be complicated, in the sense that the arm which is used for measuring the pressure will be occupied and sits in a fix position. This means that you’ll only have one free hand to perform all the other necessary steps. It’s better if you ask a friend or a family member help you in the process.

The main steps for taking your blood pressure are:

  • Pick the arm that will be used to measure your blood pressure. Most people prefer using their left hand, so that the right one can still be available for the other tasks. Make sure that your arm is placed on a flat surface, preferably a table, as it’s positioned at a good height. Your palm has to be faced upwards, and both your and your arm should be relaxed.
  • Place the inflatable cuff on you biceps, making sure it’s tight and doesn’t fall off.
  • Grab the squeezable balloon in your other hand and start pumping air into the cuff to increase pressure.
  • Keep your eyes on the pressure gauge/aneroid monitor. When the monitor indicates a number that’s about 30 mm Hg above your normal blood pressure, you can stop squeezing the balloon. If you are not sure what your normal blood pressure is, you can ask your doctor, or inflate the cuff until the pointer shows 180 mm Hg.
  • When the cuff has been inflated to the aforementioned level, place the flat end of the stethoscope under the crease of the inflated cuff. It should be right inside the elbow crease.
  • Place the other ends of the stethoscope and carefully listen as you deflate the balloon. When you hear a sound similar to a “whoosh”, read the number indicated on the aneroid monitor. That will indicate your systolic pressure.
  • Keep the stethoscope in place and continue to slowly deflate the balloon. When you heartbeat-like sound stop, record the number shown on the aneroid monitor. This indicates your diastolic pressure.

Tips for a better reading

Naturally, there are several factors that could interfere with a blood pressure reading. To get the most accurate results possible, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid any physical exercise before taking your blood pressure. When you exercise, your heart will beat a lot faster, elevating your blood pressure. This will cause a high reading, which might not reveal your normal blood pressure.
  • If your results are above the normal threshold, repeat the reading in a couple of minutes.
  • Your state of mind can also affect your blood pressure. For an accurate reading, you should feel relaxed, avoid stress, anxiety, and a state of nervousness.
  • Never place the inflatable cuff on a piece of clothing. The best results are shown when the cuff is placed directly on the skin.
  • Smoking and drinking can also affect your blood pressure, as they are factors that normally trigger hypertension. Try to avoid them before taking your blood pressure. Extra tip: it’s best if you take your blood pressure in the morning, when your body is most relaxed.
  • Visit the bathroom before taking your blood pressure, as a full bladder can interfere with a correct reading.
  • Adopt the correct posture. Aside from having your hand on the table and your palm facing the ceiling, also make sure that your feet lie flat on the floor, and your back is straight.

Automated blood pressure monitor insight

Automatic blood pressure monitors are normally indicated for people who have trouble using a stethoscope, like those with hearing problems. When your experience hearing problems, you won’t be able to identify the sounds that indicate to check the aneroid monitor and write down your systolic and diastolic pressure.

These monitors are different from one brand to another, but manufacturers should always provide step-by-step instruction on how to use the device and get the best results when monitoring your own blood pressure. If you are confused about how to use it, your doctor will surely explain the steps, and aid you into discovering how to get the most accurate readings.

Talk to your doctor about taking the device with you the next time you visit their office. With the help of the doctor’s reading, you can calibrate the machine for better accuracy. It’s crucial to purchase a high-quality machine that offers accurate reading, in order to avoid unnecessary treatment changes.

Conclusion

Whether you take your own blood pressure at home using a manual sphygmomanometer or by turning to an automated blood pressure monitor, it’s very important to follow the tips required for an accurate reading. Avoiding exercising, smoking, alcohol, stress, and adopting the correct position, will result in a reading that closer to normal. This, in turn, could avoid taking or switching treatments when there’s really no need for it.

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