During physical exams, doctors always take your blood pressure. It is as routine as getting weighed and having your temperature taken. But what exactly does your blood pressure reading mean? What makes high or low blood pressures dangerous, and how do we watch our blood pressure in the first place? In this article, we will explore these questions thoroughly.
High Blood Pressure
The most dangerous thing about hypertension (high blood pressure) is that most people do not realize that they have it either until a doctor diagnoses them with it or when they face serious complications from it (for example, a stroke or heart attack). For this reason, hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer.
The most common complications of high blood pressure are heart attack or stroke. However, these are far from the only possible complications.. The blood vessels and veins are delicate, and when damaged, there can be many negative effects. For example, damaged blood vessels in the eye may lead to blindness, or damaged arteries can lead to kidney failure. High blood pressure can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, peripheral artery disease, sexual dysfunction, increased cholesterol buildup in the veins, and heart failure.
Low Blood Pressure
While low blood pressure is good, blood pressure that is too low can be dangerous. Without enough oxygen moving around in the body, people with low blood pressure may experience dizziness or lightheadedness. They can also experience fainting spells, nausea, dehydration, blurred vision, headaches, loss of focus, hyperventilation (rapid, shallow breathing), fatigue, depression, and cold, clammy, or pale skin. Some people may never experience these symptoms, which is no cause for concern. For those who do, speak to a doctor immediately.
Both high blood pressure and low blood pressure can have adverse effects, so monitoring blood pressure is key. Here is how you can take someone’s blood pressure at home:
How to Take Someone’s Blood Pressure
Monitoring blood pressure is important, especially for those with high blood pressure. To get the most accurate results, you should ask for someone to help you take your blood pressure. Both the person taking the measurements and the person being measured should know what to do at home when monitoring blood pressure.
To take someone’s blood pressure, you will first need a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope. Some blood pressure monitors, however, are automatic and do not require a stethoscope to use. These are typically more expensive and require batteries or an electric charge to work properly, but their results won’t have room for human error. Next, you will need to make sure they are seated comfortably, with their arm flexed at the heart level.
When the patient is ready, wrap the monitor’s cuff around their upper arm, just above the elbow. Then, place the bell of the stethoscope on the patient’s brachial artery (located around the center of their upper arm’s width), underneath the lower part of the cuff. Next, rapidly inflate the cuff to 180mm.
You will be able to tell how full the cuff is based on the dial at its side, called the sphygmomanometer. From there, release the air at around 3mm per second, watching the sphygmomanometer. When you hear a knocking sound, make note of what the sphygmomanometer reads. Then, make note of the reading once the knocking stops. Those two numbers make up the patient’s blood pressure.
Understanding Your Blood Pressure
The two numbers that make up a blood pressure reading—the systolic and diastolic pressure—are what you will see. The first number recorded (when the knocking begins) is the systolic pressure, while the second is the diastolic pressure. The greater these values, the higher the blood pressure. At home, it is best to take blood pressure measurements in both arms, and sometimes, more than once. That way, you can record any differences in blood pressure around the body.
Typically, a blood pressure of 120/80 is perfect. As the numbers climb, the risk of illness caused by high blood pressure increases. If the value is around 180/120, seek medical attention immediately.
If you have any concerns regarding your blood pressure, speak with your primary care physician. To browse blood pressure monitors and accessories, visit Medical Supply Depot.