Blood presssure is a common indicator of heart disease. It is easy to keep track of a patient’s blood pressure at home using traditional equipment. Here’s how:
Wrap the blood pressure cuff around the patient’s upper arm with the arrow pointing into the bend of the patient’s elbow. The bottom of the cuff should be about an inch above the bend of the elbow. Close the Velcro snugly, but not tightly.
Put the earpieces of the stethoscope into your ears. Place the chest piece of the stethoscope into the center of the bend of the patient’s elbow. Using your non-dominate hand (left hand for most people), hold the chest piece with your index finger, or index and middle finger, but never your thumb (using your thumb will cause you to hear too many heartbeats). Continue to hold the chest piece in place until the blood pressure reading is complete.
Using your thumb and forefinger, turn the knob on the bulb clockwise until it just stops, but do not make it tight. This closes the air valve. Squeeze the bulb in your palm repeatedly while watching the meter on the cuff. The needle should go about 20 points above the top number of the patient’s normal blood pressure.
Turn the knob on the bulb counter-clockwise until air begins seeping out, and the needle on the meter starts falling slowly. Listen carefully for the first time you hear a heartbeat, and notice which number on the meter the needle is pointing to at the time. This is the top number of the patient’s blood pressure.
Continue listening to the patient’s heartbeat, which will become increasingly louder then increasingly quieter, until you can no longer hear it. Notice what number on the meter the needle is pointing to when you hear the final heartbeat. This is the bottom number on the patient’s blood pressure.
After you have the bottom number, loosen the Velcro and remove the cuff from the patient’s arm. Be careful to not squeeze the patient’s arm.
Remove the stethoscope from your ears, and turn the knob on the bulb further counter-clockwise to completely release the air from the cuff. Squeeze out the excess air from the cuff.
Tips and Warnings
If you are not sure exactly which number the needle is pointing to at the time you hear the first or last heartbeat, you may squeeze the bulb again to make the needle go back up on the meter and try to notice the number again. Do this several times if you need to.
If you can’t get a good reading on one arm, switch to the patient’s other arm.
You may put the cuff over one or two light layers of clothes, for example, a long-sleeved flannel shirt and undershirt. Jackets or thick sweaters may have to be removed or have the sleeves rolled up.
Never squeeze the cuff while it is on the patient’s arm. This is very painful.