Those who are newly diagnosed with a heart condition may be advised by their doctor to obtain a home blood pressure monitor and begin to record readings on a regular basis. And although the nurse makes it look so easy in the doctor’s office, when it comes to trying it at home, it can be a little daunting at first. How do you know if the readings you’re getting are accurate? And exactly what do those numbers mean?
For a quick definition, Harvard Health explains that the top number (systolic pressure) measures artery pressure at the instant the heart beats (when the heart contracts), while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) tracks the pressure between heartbeats (when the heart is resting). They also share the latest normal and high blood pressure guidelines from the Journal of the American Medical Association:
- Among adults age 60 and older with high blood pressure, aim for a target blood pressure under 150/90
- Among adults age 30 to 59 with high blood pressure, aim for a target blood pressure under 140/90
- Among adults with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, aim for a target blood pressure under 140/90
To ensure your blood pressure readings are as accurate as possible, Heaven at Home Senior Care, which provides dedicated senior care in Texas, offers the following seven tips:
- Make sure to take the readings at the same time each day.
- Take two or three readings one minute apart and record all three results for better accuracy.
- Have the person sit with her back straight and supported and feet flat on the floor; crossed legs can negatively affect the reading. Place the person’s arm on a flat surface, with the upper arm at heart level.
- Make sure the middle of the cuff is placed directly over the person’s brachial artery and fits correctly. To find the brachial artery, with the person’s arm out, palm facing up, trace a line from the outside of his thumb, up his outer arm to the bend in his elbow. At that bend is the brachial artery.
- The person whose blood pressure you are reading should not smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring blood pressure.
- The person should also remain silent and still during the reading.
- Have the person go to the bathroom prior to the reading, as a full bladder can raise your systolic pressure.
Consumer Reports has a helpful blood pressure monitor buying guide that tells you what you should look for in a good home monitor.
And for a fun, interactive guide to understanding and managing high blood pressure, check out the American Heart Association’s booklet.
For assistance with maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, turn to Heaven at Home Senior Care’s professional senior care services, available throughout Denton and the surrounding areas of North Texas. Our care team is experienced in maximizing health and wellbeing for seniors, and helping their hearts as well as their minds to stay healthy, active and engaged – resulting in an enhanced quality of life and wellbeing. We’re here for you 24/7 – just give us a call at 866-381-0500 and let us know how we can help!