It’s important to be well-versed with the procedure of taking blood pressure, so as to be sure of the readings you get.
Blood pressure is an important indicator of heart health and hence, the significance of taking it correctly is of paramount importance. There are many fine points that need to be taken into consideration while taking accurate blood pressure. The basic way of doing it, is with the help of a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. The sphygmomanometer has five different parts, each of which has a specific function to its credit.
- Mercury column/Aneroid gauge
- Air bulb
- Pressure valve
Steps to Take the Blood Pressure Correctly
First the patient must be made to lie down. Measuring blood pressure while standing is not advisable, as the correct blood pressure is only recorded when a patient is in a supine position. This is the position in which the person’s heart is not under any kind of stress and the heartbeat is normal.
The brachial artery is palpable on the medial side of the brachialis tendon, which can be found on the inside of the arm. In simple words, flex your arm slightly and you will be able to palpate a tendon and on the inner side of this tendon (towards the body) you will find the brachial artery. So, once the brachial artery is identified, wrap the cuff tightly around the area, just above this artery. Make it a point to place the diaphragm part of the chest-piece of the stethoscope on the brachial artery.
After the cuff is secured into place, close the valve and slowly start pumping the air bulb, which will make the mercury column rise. Be sure to do this slowly, so that the person does not feel sudden pain due to ischemia. Also, do not raise the pressure to more than 150mm of Hg to be on the safe side, unless it is known that the person is suffering from high blood pressure. Ideally, you should raise the pressure till the heart sounds are not heard anymore through the stethoscope.
Now, slowly release the pressure and wait till you hear heart sounds. These sounds are known as Korotkoff sounds. In this process, the normal streamline flow of blood is suddenly hindered and again, when the pressure is released, the blood flows turbulently and gushes through, causing these sounds. Thus, the level of pressure at which the first sound is heard, marks the systolic blood pressure. Then, when the sound slowly starts to fade away and just before it completely disappears, that reading will mark the diastolic blood pressure.
If you perform the procedure, but are not sure of the readings you got, you can repeat the procedure immediately, provided the person is not complaining of pain in the arm. During the procedure, if the persons arm suddenly turns white and spasmodic, or if the person complains of pain, then it is best to immediately release the pressure by opening the valve completely.
The normal blood pressure range is around 120/80 mm of Hg, with 120 signifying the systolic pressure and 80 the diastolic pressure; anything above 140/90 mm of Hg, is normally considered high blood pressure.
In people who are either very obese or people who suffer from arteriosclerosis, identifying and auscultating the brachial artery becomes difficult. In such cases, using a finger blood pressure monitor is a good option. All said and done, taking blood pressure isn’t so hard after all; with just a little bit of patience and practice, you can master it in no time!