HOW TO TAKE YOUR OWN BLOOD PRESSURE

The method of taking blood pressure, whether by the doctor or the patient, has not changed since its invention by Dr. Riva Rocci (RR) and Dr. Korotkoff at the beginning of this century. It is still the most reliable and simplest procedure for determining the degree of arterial blood pressure.

This is how it works: an inflatable cuff connected to a pressure gauge (manometer) is wrapped around the arm above the elbow. By pumping air into the cuff with a rubber bulb the air pressure at a given point will stop the blood flow through the main artery in the arm. This pressure is registered on the manometer. To make certain that the arterial circulation has in fact been cut off, the pressure is increased by another 10-20 mm Hg. A stethoscope placed against the crook of the elbow picks up the sound of the pulse as the air pressure is released. As soon as the air pressure drops below the systolic pressure—i.e..,: the "peak pressure" of the pulse—thudding sounds produced by the blood being pushed through the previously constricted artery with every heart beat are heard in the stethoscope. As the air pressure continues to be eased, rhythmic sounds disappear at the very moment that the air pressure falls below the diastolic pressure—i.e., when the spasmodic pulsation disappears even at the point of its lowest pressure. The manometer reading at this point of cessation gives the diastolic pressure.

A patient taking his own blood pressure must learn to spot the possible errors in his technique and how to get an accurate reading that will be of use to his doctor.

He should take his blood pressure twice a day at identical times on the same arm (either right or left) while lying down (sitting) and standing.

The arm must be free and unconstricted (e.g., no rolled-up shirt sleeve). The elbow should be held exactly at the same level as the heart.

The cuff must be deflated and the stethoscope placed against the artery that runs along a line inside the upper arm to the center of the crook of the elbow.

Because many people for some unknown reason have a silent zone—the so-called auscultory gap—between the systolic and diastolic pressure in which no pulse can be picked up by the stethoscope, the air pressure in the cuff must be pumped up to a point above the systolic pressure.

The patient should keep a record of the daily pressure readings together with the drugs taken as well as his activities during the day.

Sphygmomanometers (apparatus used to measure blood pressure) for home use should be standard, officially approved instruments, and be checked for accuracy at least once every two years.

Remember, home measurements do not mean home treatment. Changing medication and dosage, whether upward or downward, can only be done with your doctor's permission.

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Cardio & Blood/ Cholesterol

 

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