Message from Mary Nordtvedt, RN, BSN
Faith Community Nurse


Mary Nordtvedt

From Your Faith Community Nurse ...


My Blood Pressure


Pressure! Pressure! Pressure!  We all live under incredible pressure each day. One pressure reading that we should all know and can monitor is our blood pressure.


Gerald Hamstra D.O. and Beth Hamstra R.N.Ph.D, Desert Palms members and Health Ministry volunteers, have taken many of your blood pressures at our Sunday blood pressure clinics. In this article, they share great information on the topic of “My Blood Pressure.”  Dr. Hamstra, Beth or I invite you to ask us questions and have your BP taken on a BP Sunday.

(Copies of this article and an article entitled, Basic Considerations Regarding Blood Pressure by Dr. Richard Elliot will be available at the Sunday Health Ministry Information table).


What is it?

The blood pressure is an easy, fast and painless test of how well your circulatory system is working. It measures how well your heart pumps blood through the arteries of your body. The top number (systolic) is at the peak of the pump pressure and the bottom number (diastolic) is at the lowest pressure or relaxed moment prior to the heart (pump) filling again. Since your heart is both an electrical system as well as a plumbing system, the blood pressure can check the efficiency of both.

Some important concepts affect your blood pressure, in particular, your heart and your arteries. Your arterial walls are flexible, elastic tubes that run throughout your body to move oxygenated blood to all areas of your body--even the tips of your fingers and toes. However, the arteries over time become stiff, less elastic and lined with sediment (plaque) that create resistance to the movement of blood and the need for the heart to pump harder resulting in increased blood pressure.


How do we measure a Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is measured best in the left arm, while your arm is resting on a table surface with your palm up.  Your arm should be at heart level and unbent. You should be seated comfortably with your legs uncrossed. It would be ideal to have you sit in a chair for at least 5 minutes before your blood pressure is taken.


What is considered a normal blood pressure?

According to the American Medical Association Joint National Committee in 2014, they recommended that the  blood pressure for the 60-79 year old population should not be over 140/ 90. The recommended blood pressure for those over 80 should not be over 140 to 145/ 90.


What causes my blood pressure to change?

There are a host of things that can affect your blood pressure readings. From time of day, size of blood  pressure cuff, blood pressure technique, stress, sleep apnea, pain, some medications or herbal supplements, Advil/ Motrin/ Aleve, decongestants, dehydration, talking, caffeine, walking, nervousness (white coat affect), need to use the bathroom, cold temperatures or smoking just to name a few. Your blood pressure will fluctuate throughout the day as you do various different activities. Interestingly, it can take up to 3-5 minutes to return to base line after just talking. 


What does this all mean?

Know your normal blood pressure numbers.  Your doctor will let you know how often they would like you to monitor your blood pressure. Exercise regularly--walking at least 30 minutes a day is an easy exercise. Try to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet--decrease sweets, salt, alcohol, caffeine and fats while you increase fruits, vegetables and proteins (fish, poultry, beans and meats).

Mary Nordvedt

Faith Community Nurse


Nurse corner

Last Published: March 8, 2019 11:30 AM
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