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Blood Pressure Basics


Blood pressure is measured by two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic is the top number and measures the pressure when your heart beats.

Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. Elevated blood pressure is 120-129/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure (hypertension) is 130/80 mm Hg or higher.

In order to get an accurate measurement of your blood pressure there are a few factors that we should take into consideration per the American Heart Association. Let's list the ABCD's of Blood Pressure Measurement:

  1. A- achieve a calm state, make sure you are quiet and relaxed. sit calmly without talking for about 5 minutes. Make sure your reading isn't affected by caffeine, alcohol, exercise or smoking.

  2. B- body posture is important, sit in a chair with feet on the floor your legs should not be crossed and arm should be bare and should be supported at heart level.

  3. C- calibrate and check equipment, use a properly calibrated and validated instrument and check the cuff size and fit.

  4. D-double check any high readings. If blood pressure registers high take two readings five minutes apart. Confirm any elevated readings in the opposite arm.


* Have your monitor's accuracy tested once a year by a pharmacist or healthcare professional.

* Make sure that your cuffs fits: measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.

* It is very important to take the readings the same time each day if possible, mornings and evenings and whatever your healthcare provider suggests.

Blood pressure higher than 180/110mm Hg is an emergency. CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY!

If 9-1-1 is not available, have someone drive you to the nearest emergency facility immediately.

Heart rate or pulse is the number of times your heart beats per minute. the average resting heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute. This is usually lower when you are physically fit and may be higher as we age.

Self-management of blood pressure is not a substitute for regular medical check-ups, but a complement to them. It can help you and your doctor or nurse work together to achieve better blood pressure control and prevent complications. If you have high blood pressure or are at risk of developing it, you may want to consider self-management of blood pressure as part of your treatment plan.

Need more information on blood pressure, tool kits and the importance of self management of your blood pressure click on the American Heart Association link below.

How are you managing your high blood pressure, share, comment and join in the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.


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