Physicians and healthcare professionals recommend that you monitor your blood pressure regularly, because blood pressure is a vital indicator of your physical and mental health. Most doctors recommend regular monitoring of your blood pressure to get a better range of readings to analyze your health condition and your response to medications. The arrival of automatic blood pressure monitors mean that you can now check your blood pressure in the comfort of your own home.
Understanding a Blood Pressure Reading
Blood pressure is recorded in the form of a ratio, in which the first number represents the systolic pressure and the second number represents the diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats, and the diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between the beats. The blood pressure reading is written like this: 115/73 mmHg, which is read as 115 over 73 millimetres of mercury.
Your blood pressure is normal if the systolic pressure is less than 120 and the diastolic pressure is below 80. If the reading shows that your blood pressure is a little above the normal reading, you are probably undergoing prehypertension, which means you have an increased risk of having high blood pressure in near future.
When your readings show that your systolic pressure is between 140 and 159 mmHg, or your diastolic pressure is between 90 and 99 mmHg, you are most likely suffering from stage 1 hypertension. If the reading shows that your systolic pressure is 160 or above, and the diastolic pressure is over 100, you have very high blood pressure and you need immediate medical attention. This condition is called stage 2 hypertension.
If your blood pressure reading is less than 90/60 then you have low blood pressure.
Steps for Taking Blood Pressure Readings
- Make sure that you are relaxed and free from anything that can cause your blood pressure to rise. For instance, your blood pressure will rise after a heavy meal and if you take a blood pressure reading immediately, your readings may not be accurate.
- Wear loose-fitting garments like a T-shirt, so that you can adjust the sleeves easily.
- Rest and relax for five minutes before each reading. Make sure that your room is quiet and free from disturbance.
- Ensure that your arm is supported and at ease. Wrap the cuff on your arm at the same level as your heart. Make sure that the cuff fits snugly on your arm, but is not too tight.
- You should remain relaxed and comfortable throughout the readings, because if you have any anxiety or discomfort, it will reflect on the reading and thereby distort the results.
- If you are using an automatic blood pressure monitor, allow the cuff to deflate before removing it, so that you may avoid interfering with the reading.
- Take two more readings, each about one or two minutes apart and calculate the mean reading. If you observe that your readings are fluctuating considerably each time, take more readings until the differences level out and then take the mean reading of your results.