Archive for Wednesday, August 3, 2011

5 Questions: Vital signs

Blood pressure checks important to health

August 3, 2011

Dr. James O’Keefe, a preventive cardiologist with St. Luke’s Cardiovascular Consultants, answers questions about blood pressure.

Q: Why is checking your blood pressure regularly important?

A: Blood pressure is perhaps your most important “vital sign,” so don’t take it for granted. Keeping your blood pressure in the ideal range is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your long-term health.

Q: How pervasive is high blood pressure?

A: Nine out of 10 Americans develop high blood pressure sooner or later in their lives, so it is crucial that you keep track of this easily measured vital sign, even if you think your blood pressure is normal.

Q: Is having my blood pressure checked at doctor visits enough or should I do more?

A: You should keep a blood pressure monitor in your house and keep track of your blood pressure from time to time — call it your home work! It’s very useful to keep a log of your blood pressures. … A list of blood pressures is invaluable when your physician and you are deciding whether your blood pressure control is adequate.

Q: Ideally, what should my blood pressure be?

A: An ideal blood pressure is 100-130/60-85. Occasionally, your readings will be outside this ideal range, and that’s OK — blood pressure is highly variable depending on what you are doing and how you are feeling at the moment, so it will sometimes be higher and at other times lower.

Q: What’s the proper procedure for checking blood pressure?

A: When taking your blood pressure, you should be seated and relaxed with your arm resting comfortably on a table at approximately the level of your heart (or your left breast).  Both feet should be flat on the floor.  Check your blood pressure two to three times, about a minute or two apart.

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