The 5 W’s (and How) of Blood Pressure

What: Blood pressure measures the pressure of the circulating blood against the walls of the blood vessels. This is the measurement of the amount of force the body is using to get the blood through the arteries.

Who: Patients with hyper- or hypotension should take their blood pressure daily to monitor for any trends and changes. Patients with other heart or endocrine conditions should check their blood pressure regularly as well. 

When: Take your blood pressure one-two (1-2) hours after taking any blood pressure medications and when you are relaxed. By doing this, we can measure the effectiveness of the medications and make adjustments as needed. If the blood pressure is taken before medications have been taken and given time to enter the system, there is no way for us to know the effectiveness of your medication or treatment. If your blood pressure reading seems significantly out of your normal range, wait 5-10 minutes, breathe deeply, and then take it again. We will usually go with the second reading as being more accurate.

Where: Take your blood pressure at a table or desk setting. You want to be in a seated position with uncrossed legs and with your arm, the cuff, and your heart around the same level. 

Why: By following these guidelines, we are able to get the most accurate results. Consistent, accurate readings help us make the most informed decisions regarding your care. Readings can be distorted and inaccurate due to body position, clothing/jewelry, altered medications, talking, moving, and more. 

How: Listed below are step-by-step instructions on how to take a proper blood pressure reading. You can also visit our Kidney Korner post for more information on how to take your blood pressure. 

  1. Remove clothing and jewelry from the arm you will be using for a reading. These may interfere with the reading’s accuracy.
    1. Make sure any rolled or adjusted sleeves are not constricting blood flow.
  2. Sit down at a table or desk.
    1. Uncross legs and ankles
    2. Sit with good posture and feet flat on the ground
  3. Open the blood pressure cuff and loosen fully
    1. Plug the cuff into the machine, if not already done
  4. With your arm facing upwards, slide the cuff up to the upper arm
    1. You want the cuff placed one to two fingers width above the bend of the elbow, with about one finger width of space between the cuff and your arm.
    2. The tube should be in line or centered with the vein down your arm.
  5. Locate the end of the cuff, pull to begin to tighten the cuff
  6. Wrap the velcro around your arm, and secure, ensuring that the arrow indicator is within the guidelines.
  7. The machine and your arm should be resting around heart level for the most optimal reading.
    1. Rest arm in a relatively relaxed position with your palm facing up
  8. Depending on your machine, press start or go, based on the instructions.
  9. Don’t talk or move during the reading!
  10. Record your reading
  11. Based on cuff instructions, let the machine turn itself off, or press stop.
  12. Remove the velcro entirely after the cuff deflates. Do not slide the cuff off your arm.

We are here to help get you on the right track. By understanding why and how to take your blood pressure, you are making the most important steps in the right direction. Do not make any significant changes without consulting your physician or care team. As always, stay healthy!

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