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As we age, our doctors tell us to stay active and keep a healthy lifestyle. They take our blood pressure, recite a few numbers, and possibly talk about how to change the number. But what do those numbers mean?

Blood pressure is read as a fraction (i.e. 117/76) and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The top number is the Systolic and is the higher of the two. This measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats or contracts. The bottom number is the Diastolic and measures the pressure in the arteries between beats or when the heart muscles is resting and refilling with blood1.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is recommended to have your blood pressured screened every two years starting at age 20.1 If you are higher than the normal range of 120/80, talk with your doctor about more frequent screenings.

Below is the AHA’s blood pressure categories1

Category Systolic (upper #) Diastolic (lower #)
Normal Less than 120 And Less than 80
Prehypertension 120-139 Or 80-89
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1 140-159 Or 90-99
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2 160 or Higher Or 100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis (Emergency Care Needed) Higher than 180 or Higher than 110

 

Why is knowing your blood pressure so important?

Your BP tells you if your tissues are receiving regular supplies of blood that is rich in the oxygen it needs to function.  High blood pressure (HBP) is also known as the “silent killer”. It has no symptoms. It not only damages your heart and arteries but other organs as well and can lead to serious heath problems2.  Checking your blood pressure on a regular basis to ensure it falls in a healthy range protects your entire body. Further, it reduces your risk of blood vessel walls becoming overstretched or injured, lowers the risk of a heart attack, stroke or other form of heart failure3.

Measuring your blood pressure at home with your own personal monitor is easy! Allegromedical.com carries many brands and styles including the Omron Automatic Digital Blood Pressure Monitor 10 Series+  and  Omron’s Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor. Other popular brands on AllegroMedical include HealthSmart, Mabis and Invacare. All include their own special features and cater to the user needs.  For example, some offer a larger view screen, more memory for recording past blood pressures, and irregular heartbeat detection.

To check your blood pressure allow at least 15 minutes of rest prior to the test and do not eat, drink or smoke during this time 4

1)      Make sure the cuff fits and the sensor of the bladder cuff is over the brachial artery

2)      Be still and sit with your back straight, feet on the floor, your arm should be relaxed and supported on a flat surface

3)      Take multiple readings

4)      Measure at the same time daily

5)      Accurately record all these readings and make sure to understand the readings

6)      Consult your healthcare professional if you record several high readings.

If you are using a wrist monitor

1)      Hold the arm out with the palm up

2)      The digital panel should be on the inside of the wrist5

3)      Be still and sit with your back straight, feet on the floor, your arm should be relaxed and supported on a flat surface. Make sure the wrist is at heart level

4)      Take multiple readings

5)      Measure at the same time daily

6)      Accurately record all these readings and make sure to understand the readings

7)      Consult your healthcare professional if you record several high readings.

Remember, knowing your blood pressure is a key step in maintaining a current healthy status or ensuring your readings trend in a normal range. Being physically active, eating a healthy diet low in cholesterol and not smoking all factor into heart health2. Make it a habit to take it weekly and if you fall into a higher risk category talk to your doctor about what lifestyle changes could be made.  Rely on AllegroMedical.com to be your partner and value-added source for information and products to help you manage your health and optimize your healthy lifestyle.

 

1 American Heart Association. “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.” Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013

2 American Heart Association “Why Blood Pressure Matters.” Why Blood Pressure Matters. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

3 American Heart Association “What Is High Blood Pressure?” What Is High Blood Pressure? N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

4 American Heart Association “How to Monitor and Record Your Blood Pressure.” How to Monitor and Record Your Blood Pressure. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2013

5 Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 July 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

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