Ever wonder how you’re supposed to check your blood pressure? Learn about monitoring blood pressure at home, how to do it right, and more.
It’s important that you know your blood pressure readings, but doing it at home can be tricky for some people. “It sounds easy – you buy a device, smack the cuff on your upper arm and push a button, right? It’s not so easy,” says Dr. Daichi Shimbo, co-director of the Columbia Hypertension Center in New York. To help you get a more accurate reading, here are some simple tips to help you out with the basics.
Blood Pressure Numbers
“The top number [systolic pressure] is when your heart is squeezing. The bottom number [diastolic pressure] is when your heart is relaxing,” explains Dr. Karen Margolis, senior research investigator at HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis.
According to the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, there are five categories of blood pressure in adults:
- Normal: below 120/80 mm Hg
- Elevated: 120-129/below 80 mm Hg
- Stage 1 hypertension: 130-139/80-89 mm Hg
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or higher/90 or higher mm Hg
- Hypertensive crisis: 180 or higher/120 or higher mm Hg
Measuring Your Blood Pressure
Shimbo and Margolis recommend that you use a validated blood pressure device for proper self-monitoring. You can find a validated device through the AMA website or Stride BP, an international consortium.
It’s also recommended that you use upper arm cuff devices over wrist devices. While you may find cuffless devices in the form of smartwatches and more, keep in mind that few of these have been validated.
Before you measure your blood pressure, keep these things in mind:
- Avoid caffeine
- Don’t exercise for 30 minutes beforehand
- Don’t smoke
- Use the bathroom
- Don’t eat for 30 minutes beforehand
- Sit quietly without any distractions (e.g.: watching tv, reading, listening to music, etc.) for five minutes
When measuring your levels, make sure you sit in a chair that offers back support while keeping your feet flat on the ground. Position your upper bare arm at heart level, keep your palm up and muscles relaxed, place it on a supportive surface, and don’t talk.
After your first reading, wait one minute and take another reading. If you don’t follow these steps, your reading can be way off. For example, if you place the cuff over clothing instead of your bare arm, your reading can be off by 5 to 50 points.
Blood pressure also tends to be higher in the morning and decreases throughout the day. For this reason, your doctor may ask you to take two readings in the morning and then two more in the evening over the course of a week.
By knowing your blood pressure numbers, you’ll be able to know where you stand and take the necessary steps to improve your health. If you want to maintain your readings in a healthy range, you may find it beneficial to take supplements like L-arginine Plus.
Its ingredients effectively promote circulation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and more. If you’re ready to support your heart health, then start checking your blood pressure on a regular basis and take L-arginine Plus.