Aims and objectives. The purpose of this study was to identify changes in blood pressure and pulse rate after a meal for elders living in a nursing home.
Background. Postprandial hypotension is a major health issue for older persons, because it has been shown to cause increased incidence of falls, syncope, coronary disease, strokes and deterioration in the quality of life. However, there has been little systematic investigation into blood pressure changes after meals in older people.
Design. A descriptive, cross-sectional design was used to identify postprandial blood pressure and pulse rate changes in residents of a nursing home.
Method. Blood pressure and pulse rates of 121 people aged 65 and above were measured before and after a meal and at 15-minute intervals for six more measurements. Data were analysed with descriptive statistics, repeated measures anova and paired t-tests using SPSS (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).
Results. There were significant differences in systolic and diastolic pressure by time. The biggest drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure occurred at 45 minutes after the meal. There was no significant change in pulse rates except for immediately after the meal.
Conclusions. To prevent complications from drops in postprandial blood pressure, nurses should carefully monitor blood pressure of elders at least from 30–90 minutes after meals. Further study of drops in postprandial blood pressure should be conducted for various types and times of meals.
Relevance to clinical practice. Nurses caring for older persons can identify drops in the postprandial blood pressure to manage the incidence of falls, syncope and stroke more effectively, especially in nursing homes.