Before we answer these questions, it would be a good idea to understand what blood pressure is.
Blood pressure is the force with which blood pushes on the sides of your arteries as they are pumped around in your body. It doesn’t mean that blood carried in your veins do not exert any pressure on the venous walls. There is venous blood pressure too, but in general when someone refers to blood pressure (BP), it’s arterial blood pressure. Now, back to our topic.
What is Blood Pressure testing & Why do it?
Blood pressure testing is the simple way of checking whether your blood pressure is high, normal or low. This can be done in many ways as described later in this post.
High blood pressure or Hypertension is now considered a life-style disease.
Low blood pressure or Hypotension, though not a disease as such can lead to dizziness, light-headedness, fainting, weakness etc.
The advantages of early detection and treatment of high blood pressure is immense considering the huge number of complications and end-organ damage associated with it if left untreated. Stroke, heart attacks, kidney diseases and blindness are some of the few dangerous complications of hypertension. Do you really need more good reasons to test your blood pressure right now?
When to do Blood Pressure testing?
You can test your blood pressure whenever you feel like testing. The following symptoms may be considered while deciding the right time to test your blood pressure:
- Severe headache
- Fainting or blackouts
- Weakness of limbs
- Blurring of vision
- Slurring of speech
- Facial deviation
It would be a good idea to test your blood pressure if you’re above 40 years and if there is strong family history of hypertension.
Where to test your Blood Pressure?
You can get your blood pressure tested at the following places:
- Nearest health centre
- Private doctor’s clinic
- Any hospital
- Medical laboratory
- Medical camps &
- Even in your Home
How to test your Blood Pressure?
This is the crucial part because if done incorrectly, the test results could be false high or low. At hospitals and clinics, blood pressure is tested using a mercury sphygmomanometer. It can also be tested using digital blood pressure meters that use special sensors instead of mercury to measure the pressure. Below are the text book practices to be followed while testing blood pressure:
- Wait for a few minutes by sitting and relaxing before entering the doctor’s room to test your blood pressure. Do not rush in!
- Sit comfortably (preferably with back supported and legs uncrossed) and the testing arm should be placed on a table or arm-rest. The testing arm should be at the level of heart while testing.
- Roll up your sleeves or remove the cloth where the cuff has to be tied if needed.
- It’s advised not to talk while recording your blood pressure.
- The cuff is tied around your upper arm and it is then inflated using the pump. The squeezing of the cuff on the arm could be uncomfortable, but it’ll last only a few seconds.
- Readings are taken at two points using a stethoscope when using a sphygmomanometer or by sensors in digital meters. You can easily test your blood pressure at home by using these affordable digital blood pressure meters.
Here’s a good guide that can help you choose the right blood pressure meter for home.
Read this article to understand if your blood pressure is high, low or normal.
If you’ve more questions on blood pressure testing, post them in the comments section below. By the way, who would you prefer to test your blood pressure? Your doctor, nurse or a trained healthcare worker?