The Triton

Career

Knowing blood pressure numbers can help prevent disease, death

ADVERTISEMENT

When responding to a medical emergency, one of the first things emergency medical personnel do is check the patient’s vital signs. One of these is blood pressure.

Checking a person’s blood pressure can be done manually or with a digital blood pressure cuff. I prefer the digital blood pressure machines for several reasons. First, they are easy. Second, anyone can use them. And third, they are fast and generally accurate.

I do not suggest monitors used on the wrist or fingers as I found these are not as reliable as those on the arm.

Blood pressure is a good indicator of how well a person’s heart is running. Frequently checks allow us to monitor how lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise affect our blood pressure. We can see if medications affect it. And during pregnancy, high blood pressure may indicate a need for medical care.

Here are the steps for checking blood pressure. Ideally, don’t eat, smoke or exercise for at least 30 minutes before taking a blood pressure test. And try not to measure blood pressure when nervous, upset or in a crowded room. The person should be calm and quiet.

Step 1. Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position with both feet on the floor.

Step 2. Slightly bend the arm and rest it on a table or pillow so it is level with the heart.

Step 3. Wrap the blood pressure cuff around a bare upper arm (no clothing under the cuff). It should be snug, but not too tight. The bottom of the blood pressure cuff should be about 1 inch above the bend of the elbow and the hose should be in the front center crease of the arm (where the arm bends).

Step 4. Press the on/off button. After a few seconds, a heart or ready symbol will appear.

Step 5. Press the start button; the cuff will begin to inflate. Stay still, feet on the floor. No talking. Soon the cuff will begin to deflate.

Step 6. When the machine is finished, it will display three numbers to indicate blood pressure and pulse rate.

Blood pressure is the measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries as it moves through the body. Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The first, called systolic pressure, shows how hard the blood pushes when the heart is pumping. The second, called diastolic pressure, shows how hard the blood pushes between heartbeats, when the heart is relaxed and filling with blood.

Today, I checked my blood pressure and had a systolic pressure of 120 and a diastolic pressure of 80. My blood pressure is 120/80, often spoken as 120 over 80.

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer. Most of the time, high blood pressure has no obvious signs or symptoms. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 20 percent of people with high blood pressure — one out of every five — don’t even know they have it.

If left undetected and uncontrolled, high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease or failure, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, angina, and peripheral artery disease (PAD).

High blood pressure cannot be cured. However, it can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes and, when needed, medication. It is important that all crew check their blood pressure periodically. If it’s high, seek medical help.

There are several good charts from the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic and WebMD that explain the readings and identify when it gets high enough to be of concern. Find them on the internet and download them for free. I recommend keeping it with the machine for easy use.

Stay safe, know your numbers and, if the numbers are high, call your doctor.
Trained as an emergency medical technician, Keith Murray now owns The CPR School, which provides onboard CPR, AED and first-aid training as well as AED sales and service (www.TheCPRSchool.com). Comments are welcome at editor@the-triton.com.

Related Posts...
Sea Sick: by Keith Murray I have been asked by Read more...
Sea Sick: by Keith Murray May is “Skin Cancer Awareness Read more...
Sea Sick: by Keith Murray Medical emergencies happen every day. Read more...
Sea Sick: by Keith Murray What is the norovirus? The Read more...
Sea Sick: by Keith Murray In February we think of Read more...

Share This Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer the question below to leave a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Editor’s Picks

Crew Compass: Make time for yourself

Crew Compass: Make time for yourself

Crew Compass: by Lauren Loudon One thing that I’ve found difficult on boats over the years is making time for myself and doing things …

Latest news in the brokerage fleet: Bandido sells; Saint Nicholas, Rock.It listed

Latest news in the brokerage fleet: Bandido sells; Saint Nicholas, Rock.It listed

Yachts sold M/Y Bandido, a 137-foot (41.8m) Westport launched in 1989, sold in an in-house deal by Ocean Independence broker Chris …

Derecktor, Haack bid for Fort Pierce yacht facility

Derecktor, Haack bid for Fort Pierce yacht facility

By Dorie Cox Two bids to develop a megayacht repair facility in Fort Pierce, Florida, are under evaluation. Derecktor Holdings Inc. and …

Antarctic ice melt speeding up, scientists report

Antarctic ice melt speeding up, scientists report

Ice loss in Antarctica has tripled in a decade, pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean each year, according to new …