Friday, July 15, 2016

Blood Pressure Monitoring

Monitoring the blood pressure allows individuals to get an insight on their overall health.  It is a dangerous condition because nearly 33 percent of people are not even aware that they have HTN, how scary!  The only way to know for sure it is elevated is through frequent checkups, with consistent and consecutive BP monitoring.  Plus, if you are aware that an immediate relative has HTN you should be proactive and begin to monitor yours to prevent it from happening to you.  Most generally the layperson will refer to the normal blood pressure reading to be 120/80 mmHg, and if it is anywhere close when they measure it, all is well.  Some households have the equipment to measure their blood pressure, generally with the use of an electronic meter.  Gaining the knowledge to perform the task manually with a stethescope and a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff, would be beneficial because the results are more reliable if taken manually in most situations.  Also, if the person were to disagree with the reading provided by the electronic machine, the blood pressure could be taken manually if possible.  Below are parameters regarding different blood pressure results and how they are categorized, hopefully yours are normal.  The categories are as follows:

Normal blood pressure:  less than 120/80 mmHg
Pre-hypertension:  120/80 – 139/89 mmHg
Stage 1 HTN:  140/90 – 159/99 mmHg
Stage 2 HTN:  greater than 160/100 mmHg
            Hypertensive Crisis:  greater than 180/110 mmHg

So what are the differences between the top and bottom numbers you may ask?  Well the top number is referred to as the systolic blood pressure.  This means that when your heart beats, it contracts and pushes blood through the arteries to the rest of your body.  The bottom number is referred to as the diastolic blood pressure.  This number indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

To remain within the normal range and to avoid having to seek medical attention, results should be near 120/80 mmHg and vary only slightly at consecutive blood pressure checks.  If results were recorded and are in the category of a hypertensive crisis, the individual should seek immediate emergency care.  When it comes to blood pressure cuffs, size does indeed matter.  It is important to remember this when monitoring BP and obtaining reliable results.  If a cuff that is either too big or too small is used, the reading obtained may either be a false high or false low.  Try to remember for home testing that the inflatable part of the BP cuff should cover about 80 percent of the circumference of your upper arm.  Also, the cuff should cover two-thirds of the distance from your elbow to your shoulder.  If there still is a question about the correct size of cuff to be used, approach personnel at your provider’s office for clarification. 

Not only can having high blood pressure (hypertension) pose health problems, but the other end of the spectrum, low blood pressure (hypotension) may also cause adverse health issues.  An example of hypotension would most likely be if the blood pressure reading was approximately 85/55 mmHg for an extended time period.  Most providers though will consider a blood pressure that is chronically low dangerous, only if it also caused noticeable signs and symptoms.  Some of the signs and symptoms to be aware of include, but are not limited to:  dizziness, syncope, unusual thirst, dehydration, blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, depression, etc.  If no signs and symptoms are present, having a low blood pressure should not be problematic.  Of course if your BP was to suddenly decrease, you should consult medical attention as you may have a serious underlying problem.  Also, if you are used to having a higher blood pressure and it has recently lowered consecutively, or you begin to experience one of the items listed above there may be an underlying cause for you low BP.

Hypertension (HTN) is a diagnosis that frequents the medical history of a majority of the U.S. population today.  Due to the fast-paced world we live in, and the convenience of fast-food our dietary habits are negatively affected, and if prolonged will most likely lead to developing or worsening HTN.  If possible, dietary and exercise routine changes should be implemented to prevent further development or worsening of HTN as a first resort.  If this fails, medical attention will most likely occur resulting in the individual being placed on an anti-hypertensive medication.  If placed on a medication, the individual should follow all instructions strictly to ensure positive effects occur from the regime.  Listed above in the article were the BP parameters.  The following are signs and symptoms of hypertension which include, but are not limited to:  severe headache, fatigue, confusion, vision problems, chest pain, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, etc.  If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, seek medical care.  HTN just like any other medical condition can have negative effects if left untreated, so please do not hesitate to seek medical care.

Total Home Health has a program available for BP monitoring.  If admitted with us, you or your loved one will receive a specialized kit that contains tools to help monitor your disease process.  Also enclosed in the kit is teaching material to help ensure our patients and caregivers are aware of all aspects blood pressure monitoring and its treatment.  You will not be alone in your journey, because with us you will always be informed of the best treatment options.

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