The elderly always need to be mindful of the dangers of high blood pressure. At the least, it can cause headaches and it can also cause fainting which, in turn, means falls and injuries. So good healthcare is really important. Taking care of elderly people with high blood pressure will obviously involve regular blood pressure readings. For this purpose, a digital blood pressure monitor is the most convenient to use. It gives you both current blood pressure and heart rate readings and it can be used in the home without medical supervision. Those already diagnosed with high blood pressure are recommended to measure their blood pressure at home every day, more than once a day, as that has the advantage of giving you an average reading. Blood pressure measurement taken at the hospital gives a one-time reading that doesn’t reflect the many uncontrollable factors that cause discrepancies. For instance, it is quite common for people to only show high blood pressure when they visit the doctor. This so-called “White Coat Hypertension” is caused by stress, fear or anxiety when seeing a healthcare professional. When these people have their blood pressure measured at the hospital, the reading is generally higher than when it is taken at home.
As for measuring blood pressure at home, here are some tips and recommendations:
- Before measuring your blood pressure, prepare yourself by refraining from exercise, drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages and smoking for at least 30 minutes beforehand. Urinate before taking the reading and sit in a quiet place for 5 minutes to fully relax your body.
- If you are wearing tight clothes, relax. If you’re wearing long sleeves. roll them up.
- Sit up straight, feet flat on the floor, legs uncrossed, arms at heart level.
- Put the armband on the upper arm at the same level as your heart.
- Press the button on the pressure gauge.
- During the measurement, don’t clench your fists, talk, or move your body until the pressure gauge is finished taking the reading.
- Make a note of both the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure as well as the heart rate.
Elderly people with high blood pressure should take a reading twice a day, in the morning and the evening. On each occasion the blood pressure should be measured twice, 1-2 minutes apart. The morning measurement should be taken within 2 hours of waking up and before taking any antihypertensive medications.
How to take blood pressure and pulse rate readings
• Systolic Blood Pressure (SYS) is the highest pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood to the rest of the body.
• Normal rate should not exceed 120 mmHg
• Rates between 120 -139 mmHg indicate that you have prehypertension
• Rates between 140 – 159 mmHg indicate that you have stage 1 hypertension
• If your rate exceeds 160 mmHg, you have stage 2 hypertension
• Diastolic Blood Pressure (DIA) is the lowest pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes during its rest from pumping blood.
• Normal rate should not exceed 80 mmHg
• Rates between 80 – 89 mmHg indicate that you have prehypertension
• Rates between 90 - 99 mmHg indicate that you have stage 1 hypertension
• If your rate exceeds 100 mmHg, you have stage 2 hypertension
• Pulsation (PUL) is the pulse or heart rate. For each heartbeat, there is a compression to create pressure to pump the blood that nourishes the body.
Regular blood pressure measuring puts you in control of your condition. Any abnormalities are evident as soon as they occur and with a doctor’s help, you can avoid the worst consequences.
For those who are at risk of developing high blood pressure, you should change your behavior to control blood pressure so it will not rise further. However, if your SYS and DIA are in unhealthy levels, you should consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Therefore, if you have regular blood pressure measurement, you will know how to properly take care of your health. In addition, you can check the basic abnormalities immediately so those with high blood pressure can consult a doctor for further treatment.
• Siriraj Hospital
• Department of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Public Health
• Mayo Clinic
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention