How Does a Blood Pressure Monitor Work?
There are two circumstances in which you could take your blood pressure at home: either at the suggestion of your doctor or because you wish to keep track of your own blood pressure. Patients who test their blood pressure on a regular basis are more likely to be successful in their search for lower blood pressure, whether they are taking medication or adopting lifestyle modifications.
For individuals who have high blood pressure as soon as they step into a doctor’s office or a hospital (a condition known as white-coat hypertension), taking your blood pressure at home can provide a more accurate picture of how your blood pressure is performing in more relaxed, daily conditions.
A sphygmomanometer is used to measure blood pressure. The device has two parts: the first is an inflated arm cuff wrapped around your arm about at the level of your heart. The second part is a gauge that monitors the pressure in the arm cuff.
There are two pressure measurements taken by this device: the systolic and diastolic pressures. Although the pressure in your arteries is greater during systole (when your heart is beating and pumping blood through them), the pressure in your arteries is lower during diastole, which occurs when your heart is filling up with blood while at rest. For example, if your blood pressure is 120 over 80, you should seek medical attention.
The measurement of blood pressure may be done manually or digitally. At home, you often measure digitally, and the whole measuring procedure is automated, with the exception of the cuff that you must wrap around your arm before you can begin.
It then inflates until it fits securely around your arm, thus cutting off blood supply to that arm. Then the valve is opened, allowing the air to escape. The blood starts to circulate around the cuff once the cuff reaches your systolic blood pressure is reached.
This results in an oscillation that is detected by the metre, which is used to calculate your systolic blood pressure reading. With a stethoscope and a typical analogue sphygmomanometer, the doctor records the sounds of the heart as it beats.
It is only when the cuff deflates that the pressure reaches your diastolic pressure that the oscillation ceases. Additionally, the metre records this shift, and your diastolic blood pressure is computed from this information.
What should I consider when measuring my blood pressure?
Measuring requires some thinking and planning, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Several considerations should be kept in mind:
- Prevent caffeine intake and engage in vigorous activity for 30 minutes before the test, followed by a few minutes of rest right before the measurement. Place your feet flat on the floor and your back comfortably upright.
- Position your arm correctly. Placing your arm on a flat surface with the upper arm at heart level is recommended.
- Position the cuff correctly. The bottom border should be slightly above your elbow.
And when should I measure my blood pressure?
If you are measuring your blood pressure under the supervision of a physician, your physician will instruct you on when to take the measures. To be able to compare results across different measures, it is recommended that you take them at the same time every day as a general rule.
Take numerous measurements, each one a few minutes apart, on each occurrence, and compute the average to get a more representative result on each occasion. And if you are unable to store the measurements on your device, you should preserve them in a notepad to obtain a sense of long-term patterns.
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