If you have just had coffee or a cigarette or if your bladder is full, don’t take a reading, because these factors increase your blood pressure. Sit quietly for 5 minutes before you take a reading. Then follow these steps:
Position your arm at heart level on a table or arm of your chair. Right-handed people usually find it easier to measure the pressure in their left arm, and left-handed people in their right arm. Apply the cuff to your bare upper arm. It should fit snugly, with its lower edge about 1 inch above the bend in your arm. Ask your doctor what size cuff you should use.
This woman is using a blood pressure cuff with a built-in stethoscope. The mercury-column measuring unit is on the table.
The placement of the stethoscope depends on the type of blood pressure unit you are using. If your unit has a built-in stethoscope, place the flat disk over the pulse two inches above the bend of your elbow. If you are using a stethoscope that is not attached to the blood pressure cuff, place the flat disk over the pulse at the bend of your elbow.
Squeeze the hand bulb repeatedly. When the pressure gauge reading is 30 mm Hg above your anticipated systolic blood pressure, stop pumping. You should not hear any pulse sound when you listen through the stethoscope.
Deflate the cuff slowly (about 2 to 3 mm Hg per second). As the pressure falls, listen for the pulse sound. Note the reading on the gauge when the beating first becomes audible. This is your systolic blood pressure.
Continue deflating the cuff. Note the reading when the heartbeat ceases to be audible. This is your diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure is written as systolic/diastolic (for example, 140/90).
Repeat the procedure at least once to confirm the accuracy of your reading.
For hearing-impaired persons, an electronic monitoring device may be best. Have your measuring device recalibrated every 6 months or so at your doctor’s office, fire department, or public health service. Also check your measurement against that taken by your nurse or doctor occasionally to assess the accuracy of your results.
Your doctor will tell you how-often and at what times of the day you should measure your blood pressure. Remember that blood pressure varies, so don’t get too worried if a reading is unusual. Repeat the measurement in an hour.
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