By Kurt Forsthoefel, marketing director, medical division
Healthcare providers are fortunate enough to experience blood pressure (BP) measurement from both sides: as the one taking the measurement during a patient visit and when they themselves are a patient. This unique perspective allows providers to see the benefits of standardizing BP capture to improve accuracy and consistency from the viewpoint of the patient as well as staff in the form of improved workflow.
In a previous blog post we talked about the three pillars of better BP: proper patient positioning, accurate and consistent BP capture, and electronic medical records (EMR) connectivity. That article focused mostly on how technology and equipment is helping to foster that standardization, including barrier-free power examination chairs such as the Midmark® 626 with Patient Support Rails+ and vital signs acquisition devices like IQvitals® Zone™ with the SPRINT BP Protocol.
With May being National High Blood Pressure Education Month, we should not overlook the role patients can play in achieving accurate, consistent BP capture. As providers, you can use your unique perspective of the process to help patients understand the importance of proper positioning, empowering them to own the process and actively ensure it is accurate.
This can be especially important for those patients who regularly capture their BP measurement at home or those who need to detect small differences in the readings to appropriately manage their diabetes.
As you are speaking with patients during a visit, it might be helpful to share a few tips they should keep in mind as their BP is taken at home or in any other healthcare setting:
1. Refrain from any talking during the process. When a patient is talking or actively listening it can increase the measurement by 10 to 15 mmHg.
2. Remove any clothing covering the cuff location so the BP cuff can be placed on the bare upper arm. Placing the cuff over clothing can add 5 to 50 mmHg. Rolling the clothing covering the cuff location can also have a tourniquet affect above the BP cuff.
3. Support the arm at heart height and make sure the middle of the cuff on the upper arm is at the level of the right atrium. An unsupported arm can add 6 to 10 mmHg to the measurement. If the arm is above heart level, the reading can be too low (-2 mmHg per inch). If the arm is below heart level, the reading can be too high (+2 mmHg per inch).
4. Ensure the back is fully supported while seated. If the back is not properly supported, the measurement can be increased by 5 to 15 mmHg.
5. Sit with legs uncrossed during the process. If the legs are crossed, the measurement can be increased by 2 to 8 mmHg.
6. Be seated comfortably with feet flat on the floor. If the feet are not flat on the floor, the measurement can be increased by 5 to 15 mmHg.
With technology, equipment and people working together to ensure accurate, consistent BP measurement, patients and providers can be confident that everything is being done to provide the best care possible.