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How To Take a Blood Pressure

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by melbo, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    from About.com

    Blood pressure measures the force applied against the walls of the arteries as blood is being pumped throughout the body. It is constantly changing as your activity, posture, emotional and physical state change. Other factors influence blood pressure such as temperature, diet, and medications.
    Difficulty: Average
    Time Required: 5 minutes
    Here's How:

    1. Ask your patient to sit comfortably and relax.
    2. Wash your hands.
    3. Push the patient's sleeve up and wrap your deflated blood pressure cuff around the arm just above his elbow. Center the cuff bladder over the brachial artery and position the gauge so you can easily read it. Leave enough room to slide two fingers in between the arm and the cuff.
    4. Extend the arm and support it at heart level. Palpate for a brachial pulse over the brachial artery in the crook of the elbow.
    5. Insert your stethoscope earpieces into your ears and place the bell (or diaphragm) over the place you felt the brachial pulse.
    6. Close the bulb's thumbscrew by turning counter clockwise. Listen to the brachial pulse as you pump air into the cuff and rapidly inflate to 10mmHg above where you hear the last sound.
    7. Slowly open the thumbscrew on the bulb and allow 5mmHg/sec to drop.Watch the gauge and listen as the cuff deflates.
    8. Mentally note the pressure on the gauge when you hear the first clear sound. (This is the systolic pressure.)
    9. Continue Listening as the cuff deflates, and when you can no longer hear the pulse, record this number as the diastolic pressure.
    10. Then rapidly deflate the cuff. Wait 1 minute if you need to repeat your measurement to confirm.
    11. Write down your findings. Wash your hands.
    12. The systolic pressure represents the maximum pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts. The diastolic pressure represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest.
    13. Optimal blood pressure is considered less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic.
    • Tips:
    1. Never take a blood pressure in an arm with an IV line in place, a dialysis or other fistula or shunt, or on the same side as a mastectomy.
    2. Wait at least one minute before repeating a measurement.
    What You Need:

    • Stethoscope
    • Sphygmomanometer
    More How To's from your Guide To Nursing
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    I have the instruments. With some practice, you can check your own bp. Get a bit of coaching if you can, some hints and tips go a long way to limit fumbling.
  3. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    I use a auto one,a nd the wife knows all about the manual way. and the calculations using other than the left arm.including wrist.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    One thing that is key for repeatability is stop any sort of activity beyond walking a very short way well before taking the pressure (and pulse.) The idea is to get a resting reading uninfluenced by recent exertion. (No problem with me, but some folks just have to work out.) Whatever, over the long term, it is critical to do it the same way (and preferably the same time of day) so that trends stand out. To see what this really means, take it after dinner, then again the next morning right after getting out of bed. There will near certainly be a difference. Same thing with pulse, go for repeatability for trending.

    Along the same health line of thought, I've been keeping track of blood chemistry at the annual visits to my fave quack. Not all tests are done every time, but having a record that can move with you (rather than chasing the doctors to forward the records) makes it easier for the next medical type to see if there are differences worth noting. I am by no means a health nut, but having the data beats not having it.
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