Monitoring your blood pressure means keeping track of how much blood is passing through the blood vessels as well as the resistance it experiences when it is pumped by the heart. Unhealthy blood pressure can lead to a number of health risks and complications. Hence at-home devices like the LOOKEE® AirBP Blood Pressure Monitor play an essential role in identifying abnormal levels, allowing patients to understand their condition and receive the appropriate treatment.
Do's and Don'ts of Blood Pressure Tests
- Don't place the pressure cuff over clothing, as this will lead to an inaccurate reading. The cuff should be placed right above the midline of a bare forearm.
- Don't smoke beforehand. Tobacco products that contain nicotine will cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. Experts suggest waiting 30 minutes to take a reading after having a cigarette.
- Don't take a reading on a full bladder. Having a full bladder can also lead to an increase in blood pressure which can affect readings.
- Do rest before taking a reading. An increased heart rate due to physical activity can alter results, so it's essential to take a short 3-5 minute break beforehand.
- Do keep your arm supported. When taking a reading, ensure that the arm is not hanging down. It should be kept in line with the heart and placed on a steady surface.
- Do stay calm. Anxiousness and stress can cause a massive spike in blood pressure.
How To Take A Blood Pressure Reading using the LOOKEE® AirBP
- After reading the instructions, place the cuff around your arm.
- The cuff should be positioned above the midline of your forearm or 2cm above the elbow. This is so that the brachial artery can be detected.
- Press the start button, and the cuff will begin tightening.
- Ensure that you are calm and still during this process for the most accurate results.
- After a few seconds, the results will appear on the monitor. It is advisable to take more than one reading to double-check your results.
- Your readings will be recorded in the built-in app, which can be shown to your doctor at a later stage.
Interpreting your blood pressure readings
After you have received the results of your blood pressure reading, the monitor will display two numbers:
- The systolic pressure, also known as the pressure experienced when the heart pumps blood out.
- The diastolic pressure, which is the pressure experienced when the heart is resting between beats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Systolic pressure will always be presented first, and it will be significantly higher than the diastolic pressure. For example, a reading that shows "140 over 90" or 140/90mmHg indicates a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.
The highest number is always the systolic pressure, and it's always given first. For example, a blood pressure reading displayed as "120 over 80" or 120/80mmHg means a systolic pressure of 120mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80mmHg.
As a general guide:
- 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg are considered normal blood pressure levels.
- 140/90mmHg or higher indicates high blood pressure levels and a possible risk of developing hypertension.
- 90/60mmHg or lower indicates low blood pressure levels.
Hypertension in Older Adults
Hypertension occurs when the blood constantly experiences a high level of resistance as it moves through the narrow human blood vessels, also referred to as the arteries. The more narrow the arteries are, the higher a person's blood pressure will be. The condition has become more common over the years, and according to the American College of Cardiology, almost half of the U.S population currently suffers from hypertension.
There are two types of hypertension, namely essential and secondary. Essential hypertension is the most common form of high blood pressure and can occur as a result of obesity, high alcohol consumption, diabetes, and high sodium intake. However, some individuals are more predisposed to the condition, such as people over the age of 65, Hispanic and black racial groups, and those who have inherited the condition from previous generations.
In comparison to secondary hypertension, essential hypertension develops at a more gradual pace while the latter occurs more rapidly. Individuals can develop secondary hypertension due to several conditions, some of which include congenital heart defects, kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnea, medication side effects.
Progression of Hypertension
Elevation: Blood pressure readings will move from healthy levels and begin increasing above 120/80 mmHg. Elevated readings have a systolic number between 120 and 129 mmHg and a diastolic number that is less than 80 mmHg. At this point, health professionals suggest lifestyle changes as elevated blood pressure levels can be treated without the use of medication through diet and exercise.
Stage 1 hypertension: The systolic number reads between 130 and 139 m Hg, or the diastolic number is between 80 and 89 mmHg.
Stage 2 hypertension: The systolic number is 140 mm Hg or higher, or the diastolic number is 90 mm Hg or higher.
Hypertensive crisis: The systolic number is over 180 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is over 120 mm Hg. These readings alert the need for immediate medical attention, especially when symptoms such as shortness of breath, blurry vision, and chest pain occur.
Treatment options for essential hypertension can include lifestyle changes such as developing a heart-healthy diet, increasing physical activity, controlling weight gain, managing stress, and limiting the intake of alcohol. However, if the condition becomes too severe and lifestyle changes are not enough to lower the blood pressure, a doctor may prescribe medication to help to assist with this process.
When it comes to treating secondary hypertension, lifestyle changes are also encouraged, but doctors try to determine if there is an underlying cause of the condition. In certain instances, a person might be taking medication that causes an increase in their blood pressure. If so, alternative medication may need to be considered or types that assist with countering the adverse effects caused by current medication.
Of course, an important step in treating high blood pressure levels would be consistent monitoring. As people implement lifestyle changes and new medication, they will have to keep track of their levels on a regular basis. Hence, it would be wise to invest in an at-home blood pressure monitor.
Low Blood Pressure
Although presumed to be less worrying than hypertension, low blood pressure is still a sign of abnormal blood pressure levels. High or low, both can negatively affect the human body.
Also known as hypotension, low blood pressure occurs when blood pressure levels drop below 120/80 mmHg. There are many causes of low blood pressure, some of which include severe blood loss, infection, fluid loss, or damage to the heart. Age is also a determining factor as the arteries begin to stiffen as a person gets older, causing a drop in pressure levels. Damage to the adrenal glands can lead to lower sodium levels in the body, also causing a drop in blood pressure.
Treating Low Blood Pressure
A person suffering from severe hypotension may experience symptoms such as chest pain, headache, prolonged diarrhea, or vomiting. Other symptoms include a burning sensation while urinating, high fever, varicose veins, and irregular heartbeats.
Doctors may recommend medication that increases the blood volume and thus raise blood pressure levels. Blood volume plays a vital role in blood pressure; hence health professionals suggest that patients maintain a regular water intake.
Since low sodium can contribute to hypotension, people suggest consuming higher amounts of salt, but since this can lead to heart complications in older adults, it would be wise to consult a professional beforehand. To assist with swelling legs and varicose veins that occur due to the condition, compression stockings are often used to help alleviate symptoms.
New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension:
NHS - Blood pressure test:
10 Factors That Can Affect Blood Pressure Readings:
CDC - High Blood Pressure:
Everything You Need to Know About High Blood Pressure (Hypertension):
Low blood pressure (hypotension):