Taking Blood Pressure Correctly

Demonstrate you know how to take your loved one's blood pressure correctly and then instruct your loved one on how to take their own correctly.

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This task follows the Watch One, Do One, Teach One approach.

AUTOMATIC blood pressure cuff

Watch One: Mayo Clinic - Video on Automated/Digital Cuff

Do One:

  1. Ensure that your blood pressure cuff is in proper working order. No leaks, all readouts function.

  2. Ensure the arm cuff is the right size for your loved one's arm (Sm, Reg, Lg, XL). Wrist cuffs are typically one size fits all.

  3. Have your loved one finish eating, drinking, and spit out chewing gum or candy.

  4. Ensure that they are sitting comfortably. Legs uncrossed, feet flat on the ground.

  5. Ensure that their arm is roughly at the level of their heart (can be slightly below). Relax it on the arm of the chair or use a pillow to prop it up.

  6. Place the cuff firmly (not tightly) around their bare arm (not over clothing), about an inch above the bend of the elbow. If using a wrist cuff, about an inch above the hand.

    • Important! DO NOT take blood pressure in a restricted limb (due to dialysis access, mastectomy, fracture, recent surgery, etc.).

  7. Instruct them to breathe normally but avoid talking or coughing.

  8. It may be necessary to remind them that the cuff will inflate and feel very tight around their arm but the pressure will not last long.

  9. Turn the power on and press the start button to begin the reading.

  10. If the cuff deflates and begins to inflate again, assure them that this happens occasionally to get an accurate reading.

  11. When the blood pressure cuff indicates that the reading is finished, record the readout.

  12. Repeat this process once daily, unless otherwise recommended by their provider, at different times. Do not take blood pressure readings at the same time every day.

Teach One: Assist your loved one in following these steps to take their own blood pressure. Then, have them demonstrate it back to you without assistance.

MANUAL blood pressure cuff

Watch one: Mayo Clinic - Video on Manual Cuff

Do One:

  1. Follow steps 1-8 above.

  2. Place the stethoscope buds in your ears and place the diaphragm (large disc) in the bend of their elbow, below the cuff. Do not begin until you can hear their pulse through the stethoscope. Move the diaphragm around slightly until it's audible. Once audible, hold the diaphragm in place with your non-dominant hand.

  3. Ensure that the numbered dial is somewhere you can see it and won't slip.

  4. Make sure the valve on the ball pump is closed and begin to pump with your dominant hand, inflating the cuff. Watch the needle on the dial start to climb as the cuff inflates.

  5. Inflate the cuff until you can no longer hear their pulse and remember the number on the dial when it first disappeared. (Stop inflating!) This is the systolic, or top, number.

  6. Without moving anything except your dominant hand (or fingers), slowly turn the ball pump valve, gently letting air out of the cuff. Watch the needle start to drop as the cuff deflates.

  7. Listen for the sound of their pulse to return and remember the number on the dial when you first heard it again. Note that the needle on the dial may begin to bounce before you hear their pulse return. Ignore the bounce and only listen for the sound. This is the diastolic, or bottom, number.

  8. Once their pulse is audible again and you note the number, you can release the valve completely and let all the air out of the cuff.

  9. Remove the cuff and record your numbers.

  10. Repeat this process once daily, unless otherwise recommended by their provider, at different times. Do not take blood pressure readings at the same time every day.

Teach One: Assist another family member, friend, or neighbor in following these steps to take your loved one's blood pressure. Then, have them demonstrate it back to you without assistance.

Note that it is very difficult (and for most - impossible) for your loved one to take their own blood pressure with a manual cuff. So, while you may teach your loved one the process so they can help others take their blood pressure, they are not learning to do it by themselves.

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