One in three adults has high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure for prolonged periods can negatively affect the body’s organs, including the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. Harvard Medical Institute indicates that blood pressure taken at a doctor’s office may not always be accurate because of the tension that some people feel by simply visiting the physician. Therefore, it is important to know how to take your own blood pressure.
A normal person’s blood pressure will consistently fluctuate in the course of a day. Simple actions or events during the day can alter blood pressure; therefore, these changes in blood pressure are not necessarily caused by high blood pressure. It is, however, important for every person to monitor his or her blood pressure because a person can develop high blood pressure and have it for years without ever knowing it . The longer that a person is impacted by high blood pressure, the more chance there is that damage to the rest of the body will occur.
Two readings are obtained in blood pressure monitoring: systolic and diastolic. Systolic readings are those related to the heart pumping blood, while diastolic readings are those related to the measurement in between heartbeats.
Normal systolic blood pressure is less than 120, and normal diastolic blood pressure is less than 80. Those with prehypertension have readings of 120 to 139 for systolic blood pressure and 80 to 89 for diastolic blood pressure. When hypertension is present the readings for systolic blood pressure will be 140 to 160 or higher, and the readings for diastolic pressure will be 90 to 100 or higher on a consistent basis.
Taking Blood Pressure
When visiting a medical facility, medical professionals will usually take blood pressure readings using a cuff. Individuals can purchase home blood-pressure monitors with a cuff, and they require a stethoscope to listen to the heart rate. These are called aneroid meters, but are difficult to use for those with some physical impairments, such as deafness.
A digital meter requires the individual to place his or her arm in a tube. The unit automatically records the blood pressure reading. This type of monitor is more expensive than the aneroid meter and can be adversely impacted by movement of the person being monitored. However, many patients report that they are happier with the digital meter because the unit virtually does all the work and provides a quick blood pressure reading.
The finger or wrist blood pressure monitor is placed on either the finger or wrist, as the names suggest. Like the digital monitors, the readings are quick, but they are not always believed to be accurate. This is because these monitors are very sensitive to movement and even the slightest flinch from the person being monitored can alter the readings. However, for people who do not wish to use a cuff or who are physically impaired in a manner that prevents the use of the digital meter, the finger or wrist monitor is a viable alternative to traditional blood pressure monitoring.