How to Take A Blood Pressure Reading in Children
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 1, 2023.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure (BP) is the force of blood pushing on the walls of your child's arteries. BP results are written as 2 numbers. The first, or top, number is called systolic BP. This is the pressure caused by your child's heart pushing blood out to his or her body. The second, or bottom, number is called diastolic BP. This is the pressure when your child's heart relaxes and fills back up with blood. Ask your child's healthcare provider what your child's BP should be.
How often should I take my child's BP readings?
Your child's healthcare provider may recommend that you take your child's BP readings 2 times a day. Take the readings at the same times each day, such as the morning and evening.
How do I take my child's BP readings?
You can take your child's BP readings at home with a digital BP monitor. Read the instructions that came with the BP monitor. The monitor comes with an adjustable cuff. Ask your child's healthcare provider if your child's cuff is the correct size.
- Do not take your child's BP readings within 30 minutes after he or she eats, drinks, or exercises. If your adolescent smokes, do not take the BP readings within 30 minutes after he or she smokes.
- Help your child rest quietly for 5 minutes before you take his or her BP readings. Tell your child not to talk while you take his or her BP.
- Have your child sit with his or her feet flat on the floor and back against a chair.
- Have your child put his or her arm out straight. Support the arm on a flat surface. The arm should be at your child's chest level. Tell your child not to move the arm while you take his or her BP readings.
- Make sure all of the air is out of the cuff. Place the BP cuff against your child's bare skin about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above his or her elbow. Wrap the cuff snugly around your child's arm. The BP reading may not be correct if the cuff is too loose.
- If you are using a wrist cuff, wrap the cuff snugly around your child's wrist. Hold your child's wrist at the same level as his or her heart.
- Turn on the BP monitor and follow the directions.
- Write down your child's BP, the date, the time, and which arm you used to take the BP readings. Take the BP readings 2 times and write down both readings. Use the same arm each time. These BP readings can be 1 minute apart.
What else do I need to know?
- Do not take a BP reading in an arm that is injured or has an IV or shunt. The reading may not be accurate.
- Do not stop giving your child medicines if his or her BP is at goal. A BP at goal means the medicine is working correctly. Give your child BP medicines as directed.
- Bring the BP machine to your follow-up visits. Your child's healthcare provider can check that you are using the machine correctly.
When should I call my child's doctor?
- Your child's BP is higher or lower than you were told it should be.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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