How to Take Blood Pressure in Legs

By Heather Topham Wood

If a person has a certain medical condition, a doctor may recommend that her blood pressure be measured in her legs. This is often the case in women who have undergone surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes during a breast biopsy. Mastectomy patients will also be recommended to have their blood pressure taken this way. To measure a person’s blood pressure in their legs, certain adjustments will need to be made.

Use a blood pressure cuff that is an appropriate size to use on a person’s leg. Many medical supply stores will sell blood pressure cuffs with a larger circumference to fit a person’s thigh.

Request that the person lay flat on his stomach. You can place a pillow under his head to increase his comfort level.

Apply the blood pressure cuff at the person’s thigh; it does not matter which leg you use. You will also want to place your stethoscope over the person’s popliteal artery to listen to the pulse as you take the measurement. The popliteal artery is located behind the knee and is easily accessed while the patient lays flat on his stomach.

Engage the pump included with the thigh blood pressure cuff. Inflate the cuff rapidly and then loosen the valve inflating the cuff as you listen for a heartbeat. When you hear a sound, the dial gauge will indicate the systolic pressure. Continue to deflate the cuff until the heartbeat stops. This will be the diastolic pressure.

Adjust the readings of the person’s blood pressure when taken in the legs. On average, the systolic reading will be an average of 10 to 20 percent higher than readings taken in the arms. If the blood pressure is lower in the legs than the arms, it is considered an abnormal reading.

Tips

As with normal readings, the person should not have any caffeine or alcohol at least one hour before taking the reading in the legs. Also, allow her to relax a minute or two before engaging the blood pressure cuff.

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