Blood Pressure 101

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Taking your Blood pressure; is the time for you to act as the doctor.

Have you ever wondered what people were doing when they were taking your blood pressure? There are also three very important things that you need to do or check before you ever get your blood pressure taken to make sure you are getting a correct blood pressure reading.

First, what is actually happening when your blood pressure is being taken? The cuff gets pumped up. How do we determine when to stop? You probably think it is just about when your arm is about to fall off. The cuff is actually pumped up until we can no longer hear your heart beat in the stethoscope. This is actually the blood flow through your brachial artery!!! The higher your blood pressure, the more the cuff will be pumped up.  Then we listen until we hear the 1st heart beat sound. This is the systolic blood pressure or the top number. The cuff is slowly released until that heart beat goes away. That is the diastolic or the bottom number.  That is it, plain and simple.

Now, the three things that you need to make sure before any one takes your blood pressure: you have not had any coffee, cigarettes, or alcohol 30 minutes before having your blood pressure taken. Make sure that you are sitting, with your elbows at the level of your heart with your arm supported. Do not dangle your feet. Rest for a few minutes in this position before having your pressure taken.

The last important thing that you must make sure you do before your pressure is taken is to make sure that they are using the right size cuff. If you are a normal size person then the normal cuff works for you. If you are a larger person, then you need the larger cuff. And of course children usually need a smaller cuff. If your cuff is too small then your blood pressure will be falsely elevated and you do not want that! Make sure that the cuff is placed on your bare arm and not over your clothes.

Remember a blood pressure of 180/120 needs immediate medical attention.

Now you can be your own physician every time you have your blood pressure taken.