Step-by-Step guide to Measuring Blood Pressure Manually
Before you begin reading any further, make sure you're familiar with the terms and concepts associated with blood pressure, because they maybe used throughout this guide. If you need a recap, click on this hub for the basics and this one for the low down on high blood pressure (hypertension). Check out this article for an introduction to measuring blood pressure.
(Note that this is not a strict professional guide for medical or nursing students, this is merely a tutorial on how to take blood pressure only)
Ideally you should find a fairly quiet place to practice this skill, because you'll be using your ears as well as your brain and hands. Yes, this is proof that we indeed can multifunction effectively. Hurrah.
Gathering your equipment before you begin is essential. Not only will it save you from running allover the place looking for things; it will also give you a peace of mind during the procedure, allowing you to focus on what you're doing and ensuring everything goes as smoothly as possible. Having said that, if you mess the procedure up the first few times, don't worry ! Best practice makes it perfect.
Lets have a look at our equipment.
This is optional, but make sure your hands are clean prior to beginningthe procedure.
Ok, this big long word is pronounced: S-fig-mo-ma-nom-meter. Do the checks for the right size etc (see Introduction to measuring blood pressure for more info), and make sure it's working properly. Place the dial on a flat surface where you can easily see. Hold the pump in the palm of your dominant hand and close the valve using the fingers on that hand. Clamp your fingers down repeatedly and quickly on the pump that's still in your palm. If the cuff inflates and the dial increases, That means it is working. Simple as it may sound, this takes practice to master.
Hang the dial on the cuff.
As well as the one shown here, there is also a mercury sphygmomanometer.
It is no longer used in many health care institutions because of it's prone to breaking and causing mercury toxicity, which is a health hazard.
Hang this around your neck and you'll feel like a doctor (:
You can buy these at a chemist. Take one and wipe the earpieces of the stethoscope before use.
Always use your fingers when taking a pulse, not your thumb, because there is a strong pulse in the thumb. You may confuse it with the actual pulse you are taking. We are taking the brachial pulse instead of the radial pulse -located on the wrist- because the brachial is closer to the area where the cuff is, and any changes could be felt more quicker. The differences are subtle, but present.
Step 2: Keep feeling the pulse and inflate the cuff until you cannot feel it anymore. Look at the dial and note the number on which the pointer has landed. This will give you a rough guide as to what the systole is. For example, the pointer has landed on 120mmHg. Deflate the cuff immediately.
Step 3: Wait a few minutes to give the persons arm a rest. In the meantime, you could put on your stethoscope and rub the diaphragm (end of the stethoscope you will use on the person's skin) against the palm of you hand to warm it up a bit for the persons comfort.
Step 4: Place the diaphragm against the person's arm where you had taken the brachial pulse. If you prefer, you could also slot the end of the stethoscope under the cuff.
Step 5: Remember the number on the dial ? Now add 20.
So 120 + 20 = 140. This new number is gonna be the number on the dial you will inflate the cuff to.
Step 6: Inflate the cuff to 140mmHg and slowly, but not too slowly, deflate it. Keeping your eye on the dial, you wanna listen out for the thumping sound. If you cannot hear it in the first few tries, don't worry, look at the dial for the first slight jerk of the pointer. Note the value on the dial...This is the systole.
Step 7: Contine to slowly deflate the cuff until the thumping sound stops, or when the pointer on the dial ceases to jerk. Note the value on the dial again - this is the diastole. Deflate the cuff immediately thereafter.
Again if you don't get this the first few tries, don't fret. Measuring somebody's blood pressure manually requires a good bit of practice. Once you follow the steps and understand the rationale for these steps, the rest will soon follow. I hope this helped...Good luck !