How It Is Done continued...
Close the valve on the rubber inflating bulb. Squeeze the bulb
rapidly with your opposite hand to inflate the cuff until the dial or column of
mercury reads about 30 mm Hg higher than your usual
systolic pressure. (If you don't know your usual
pressure, inflate the cuff to 210 mm Hg or until the pulse at your wrist
disappears.) The pressure in the cuff will stop all blood flow within the
Now open the pressure valve just slightly by
twisting or pressing the valve on the bulb. The pressure should fall slowly at
about 2 to 3 mm Hg per second. Some blood pressure devices have a valve that
automatically controls this rate. As you watch the pressure slowly fall, note
the level on the dial at which you first start to hear a pulsing or tapping sound through the stethoscope. The sound is caused by
the blood starting to move through the closed artery. This is your
systolic blood pressure. If you have trouble hearing the
start of your pulse through the stethoscope, you can check your systolic blood
pressure by noting the level on the dial when you are able to feel the pulse at
your wrist once again.
Continue letting the air out slowly. The
sounds will become muffled and will finally disappear. Note the pressure
when the sounds completely disappear. This is your
diastolic blood pressure. Finally, let out all the
remaining air to relieve the pressure on your arm.
Be sure to
write your numbers in your log book, along with the date and time.
Electronic blood pressure monitors
Sit with your arm slightly bent and resting comfortably on a table so
that your upper arm is on the same level as your heart. Expose your upper arm
by rolling up your sleeve but not so tightly as to constrict blood flow. If you
are not able to roll up your sleeve, remove your arm from the sleeve or take
off your shirt. Wrap the blood pressure cuff snugly around your upper arm so
that the lower edge of the cuff is about
1 in. (2.5 cm) above the bend
of your elbow.
electronic models, press the on/off button on the electronic monitor and wait
until the ready-to-measure "heart" symbol appears next to zero in the display
window. Then press the start button. The cuff will inflate automatically to
approximately 180 mm Hg (unless the monitor determines that you require a
higher value). It then begins to deflate automatically, and the numbers on the
screen will begin to drop. When the measurement is complete, the heart symbol
stops flashing and your blood pressure and pulse readings are displayed
All blood pressure monitors
At first it is a good
idea to take your blood pressure 3 times in a row, 5 or 10 minutes apart. As
you get more comfortable taking your own blood pressure, you will only need to
measure it once or twice each time.
Check your blood pressure cuff
frequently to see that the rubber tubing, bulb, valves, and cuff are in good
condition. Even a small hole or crack in the tubing can lead to inaccurate
To help develop your skills, see:
- High Blood Pressure: Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home.