For patients with hypertension, teaching the patient (or caregiver) to take her/his own blood pressure should be the #1 objective of the home health clinician.
High blood pressure - hypertension - is called the “silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or symptoms and patients don't realize they have it. High blood pressure develops slowly over time and can be related to many causes.
Hypertension cannot be cured. The 'silent' nature of hypertension reinforces the need for patients to regularly monitor their blood pressure, or get blood pressure checked regularly by a caregiver.
Use the following tips to teach patients - and caregivers - how to monitor their own blood pressure. Click here to access the home health careplan for hypertension.
Teaching tips for patients using an automatic monitor.
• Explain to the patient/caregiver that daily and accurate accurate blood pressure (BP) readings are important since high blood pressure may not cause any symptoms until it is dangerously high.
• Describe how blood pressures are recorded: the blood pressure is shown as two numbers written one over the other. The systolic BP (top number) and diastolic BP (bottom number) shows the pressure in the arteries (blood vessels) as your heart muscle pumps and fills with blood.
• It is important not to take coffee or tea, smoke, or exercise 30 minutes before taking measuring blood pressure.
• It is advised to measure blood pressure at the same time each day - usually in the morning before taking blood pressure medicines, and then again in the evening.
• Take the blood pressure for each arm.
• Start with the right arm. With feet flat on the floor, sit on a chair with back straight. The upper arm should be at the level of the heart, while the arm is supported on a flat surface such as a table. Place the digital blood pressure monitor on the table and put the cuff around the bicep.
• With an automatic monitor, push the start or on button for the device to begin measuring blood pressure.
• Perform the same on the left arm.
• Record the blood pressure from the arm with the HIGHER reading.
Teaching tips for a caregiver using a manual blood pressure cuff.
• To check the blood pressure of a family member at home without the aid of an electronic or automated machine, gather the following medical items: a blood pressure cuff with a squeezable pump (balloon), a stethoscope, an aneroid monitor.
• To check another person's BP manually, inform him or her to sit in a relaxed position arms at rest on a table.
• Secure the cuff on his or her bicep and squeeze the pump (balloon) to increase the pressure.
• Watch the aneroid monitor and pump the pressure to 30 mm Hg more than the person's normal blood pressure (or to 180 mm Hg if this is not known).
• After the cuff is inflated while secured on the person's bicep, place the stethoscope just inside the inner elbow crease, about 1 inch under the cuff.
• Slowly deflate the pump (balloon) and listen through the stethoscope. When the first beat hits, note the number on the aneroid monitor. This is the upper reading or the person's systolic pressure.
• Listen attentively through the stethoscope until the heartbeat stops. Record the number from the aneroid monitor of the last audible beat. This is the diastolic pressure. These two numbers are the BP reading of the person.
Video: How to measure blood pressure using an automatic monitor. (2016, December 20). Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/multimedia/how-to-measure-blood-pressure/vid-20084749
Brusie, C. (2018, January 26). How to Check Blood Pressure by Hand: Tips and More. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-blood-pressure-by-hand