How To Measure Blood Pressure With A Sphygmomanometer

Checking your blood pressure regularly is a good idea. Unfortunately, many people suffer from “white coat hypertension”, a state of anxiety that raises blood pressure when approaching a doctor with a stethoscope. Taking your blood pressure at home can limit or eliminate this problem and get more realistic results.

Prepare the Equipment

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Sit down and open the blood pressure monitor kit. Stand next to a table and prepare the stethoscope, the manometer, the cuff and the pump called “bellows”, being careful not to tangle the tubes.

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Sit at a table or desk where you can easily relax your arm so that when you bend your elbow, it is parallel to your heart. In this way you do not risk making a mistake by excess or defect.

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Wrap the band around your upper arm, sliding the top through the metal bar that is connected to the band. Pull up your sleeves if you have them long. You can put the headband on very thin clothes. Most of the bands have a Velcro closure, for easier attachment.

Some experts recommend using the left arm; others to test both arms. However, when you feel the pressure yourself, put the cuff on the non-dominant arm to be able to handle all operations with a sure hand.

Come Misurare la Pressione con uno Sfigmomanometro

Make sure the band is snug, but not too tight. If it is too loose, you cannot feel the artery and risk getting unreliable results. If, on the other hand, it is too tight you can create “false hypertension “.

Pulmonary hypertension can also occur if the band is too tight or too short in relation to the arm.

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Put the end of the stethoscope on your arm (diaphragm). It should be dome-shaped or flat, and rests directly on the skin on the inside of the arm just above the brachial artery. The edge of the diaphragm must be under the sleeve. Gently put the stethoscope’s earbuds into your ears.

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Don’t hold the diaphragm with your thumb; this finger has its own pulse and may confuse you when measuring.

The best technique is to hold the diaphragm with index and middle fingers. That way you won’t feel anything until you start inflating the band.

Come Misurare la Pressione con uno Sfigmomanometro

Secure the pressure gauge on a stable surface. If it is attached to the sleeve, remove it and place it on a hard book, for example. This makes it easier to take readings. It is important that the pressure gauge is firm and stable.

Make sure you have good lighting to be able to locate the gauge needle.

Sometimes the pressure gauge is attached to the rubber bulb, in which case this step does not apply.

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Grab the bellows and close the valve. There must be no pressure loss before starting, otherwise you would get wrong measurements. Turn the valve clockwise until it stops.

It is equally important not to close the valve too tightly otherwise it will open abruptly and let the air out too quickly.

Measure the Pressure

Come Misurare la Pressione con uno Sfigmomanometro

Inflate the cuff. Quickly squeeze the pump (bellows) until the needle on the pressure gauge indicates 180 mmHg. This is the pressure needed by the cuff to close the brachial artery and is why some experience discomfort.

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Open the valve. Turn it gently counterclockwise to release the air in the cuff. Turn it gradually and steadily. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge; for an accurate measurement the needle must drop at a rate of 3 mmHg per second.

Releasing the valve while holding the stethoscope’s diaphragm in place may prove to be a little tricky. Try to use the hand where you have the cuff to open the valve and the other to hold the stethoscope.

If there is someone nearby, ask them to help you. An extra pair of hands can make the process a lot easier.

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Take note of your systolic blood pressure. As the pressure inside the cuff drops, listen with the stethoscope, and as soon as you hear the sound of the pulsation take note of the corresponding value on the pressure gauge. This is the value of the systolic pressure.

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Systolic pressure is the force that blood exerts on the arterial walls after a heartbeat. It is also called “maximum ” because it is the highest value.

The medical name of the pulse you hear is “Korotkoff Sound “.

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Take note of your diastolic blood pressure. Do not stop checking the pressure gauge while you continue to hear the pulse with the stethoscope. This sound gradually turns into a very intense “rustling”. It is important to be aware of this change because it means that you are approaching the diastolic value. As soon as every noise stops, you have reached the diastolic pressure, read the value on the pressure gauge.

Diastolic pressure is the force that blood exerts on the arterial walls when the heart relaxes after a contraction. It is also called “minimum ” because it is the lowest value.

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Don’t worry if you miss a measurement. You can pump the cuff again and repeat the operation.

But don’t do it too many times (just 2 or 3), as it can affect accuracy.

Alternatively you can move the cuff to the other arm and repeat.

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Check your blood pressure one more time. Blood pressure can have many (sometimes very large) fluctuations; it is therefore useful to take at least two readings at a distance of 10 minutes to find a more accurate average value.

If you want to be even more precise, measure your blood pressure a second time 5-10 minutes after taking the first one.

It might be a good idea to switch arms for the second measurement, especially if the first one gave abnormal values.

Interpret the Results

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Understand the meaning of values. As soon as you have noted your blood pressure, it is right and important to know what the numbers mean. Use this guide as a guideline:

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Normal blood pressure: systolic below 120 and diastolic below 80.

Pre-hypertension: systolic between 120 and 139, diastolic between 80 and 89.

Hypertension-stage 1: systolic between 140 and 159, diastolic between 90 and 99.

Hypertension-stage 2: systolic above 160 and diastolic above 100.

Hypertensive crisis: systolic over 180 and diastolic greater than 110.

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Don’t worry if your blood pressure is low. Even if you find a value below 120/80, there is no cause for concern; if there are no particular symptoms, a pressure of 85/55 is still considered normal.

However, if you have dizziness, dizziness, dehydration, nausea, blurry vision and / or fatigue, you should see your doctor as this could be a sign of an underlying condition.

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Know when therapy is needed. It is important to know that a single episode of high blood pressure does not mean hypertension. It could be the result of many factors.

If you measure your blood pressure after physical activity, after eating salty foods, drinking coffee or smoking, or during a stressful period, your values ​​could be very high. If the cuff is not suitable for your arm size, the results may be inaccurate. In summary, don’t worry too much about a single episode, if the other measurements are within the norm.

However, if your blood pressure is consistently 140/90 or higher, you should see your doctor to establish a therapy that usually involves a combination of diet and exercise.

Medication use may also be considered if lifestyle changes don’t help, your blood pressure is very high, or you have risk factors such as diabetes or heart disease.

If you have a systolic above 180 or a diastolic above 110, wait a couple of minutes and try again. If the values ​​are confirmed, you need help immediately ; call 911 as you may be having a hypertensive crisis.

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