Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

How to Read Blood Presure & Heart Monitor at Hospital Bedside

author image Kyle Clayton
Kyle Clayton has been a creative writer since 2007 and now works as a freelance writer for LIVESTRONG.COM. He has worked in the fitness industry since 2007 and enjoys writing about nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyles. Clayton is the winner of the Rex Reed Screenwriting Award and a UCLA Showcase Finalist. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from UCLA.
How to Read Blood Presure & Heart Monitor at Hospital Bedside
On the printout, one large box equals .2 seconds.

Two common readings taken from patients at a hospital are heart rate and blood pressure. Loved ones may want to understand what's going on with the electrocardiogram, which monitors the heart, and the blood pressure readings they see. In order to do so, you need to understand what each wave of the electrocardiogram means, as well as the ranges of systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, it takes a medical professional to properly interpret the data and make a diagnosis.

Video of the Day

How to Read an Electrocardiogram

Step 1

Locate the flat or wavy line between the peaks. This is the P wave. It ends at the first rise or dip of the beat. P waves measure the depolarization of the atria, which means a heart muscle contraction, according to "Elementary ECG," published by the Laboratory of Nonlinear Systems. The time from the start of the P to the first Q or R wave should be between .12 and two seconds.

Step 2

Locate the first dip or spike of the heartbeat. If it's a dip, this is a Q wave, which is a downstroke. If it's a spike, this is an R wave, which is an upward deflection. Q waves can be a sign of a heart attack, or they can be normal. Only a doctor can make the determination.

Step 3

Check for a downward stroke below the P line after an R wave. If present, this is an S wave. The entire readout of these three waves is called the QRS complex, and it should last .08 to .12 seconds in a healthy individual.

Step 4

Locate the flat or wavy line after the QRS complex. This is the T wave, and it measures ventricular repolarization, which is the relaxing of the heart muscle.

How to Read Blood Pressure

Step 1

Locate the top number of the two numbers. This is the systolic blood pressure, which represents pressure within the heart during a beat. A normal systolic pressure should be between 90 and 120.

Step 2

Locate the bottom number of the two numbers. This is the diastolic blood pressure, or the pressure between heartbeats. A normal diastolic pressure should be between 60 and 80.

Step 3

Use the first number as the systolic pressure and the second number as the diastolic pressure if the reading is taken using a blood pressure cuff instead of a machine.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media