High blood pressure, also called HBP or hypertension, is a dangerous and very common condition. In fact, almost 1 in 3 adults suffer from it, and only about a half of those people keep this issue under control. Monitoring blood pressure is a must for both people with this condition and those at risk of developing it. This procedure is a simple but effective way of managing this problem and reducing the risk of extremely dangerous health conditions it can cause, such as stroke and heart attack.
Reasons for Monitoring Blood Pressure at Home
Using a specialized blood pressure monitor at home and keeping track of your readings will help with:
- Early diagnosis.
The difference in treatment of slightly elevated blood pressure and hypertension is huge. Self-monitoring will allow you to help your doctor spot this deterioration in your condition immediately and prescribe suitable treatments. This is especially important for people suffering from conditions that increase the risk of HBP, such as those suffering from diabetes and kidney disease.
- Tracking the efficiency of treatment.
Monitoring blood pressure with a high-quality device allows to see whether the treatment program works for you. There are a variety of drugs and methods used to control blood pressure, and regular readings both at home and at a medical facility will help your doctor develop the best program for you personally.
- Reducing health care costs.
Regular self-monitoring helps controlling the condition. When you have the readings before your eyes, you will be encouraged to treat your health more responsibly and follow the doctor’s advice not only in treatment but lifestyle as well. This will help reduce the number of hospital visits.
- Accurate diagnosis.
Hypertension can be a tricky condition to diagnose as sometimes people get a spike in their blood pressure while at a doctor’s office. This is usually caused by anxiety. There is also a reverse problem, called masked hypertension. Regular readings at home will allow you measure your true blood pressure, necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
How to Monitor Blood Pressure at Home
First of all, monitoring blood pressure at home requires a top-quality monitor. The device you buy must be easy to use and guarantee accurate readings. It’s best to buy a model with a large display and a memory function so that it can record the readings to help you get a complete ‘picture’ of the condition.
Another important factor to consider is the arm. It’s considered normal for the readings from left and right arm to differ by about 10 mm Hg. However, patients suffering from a coronary disease might show a greater difference. You will need to discuss this issue with your doctor. At home, you should take the readings of your non-dominant arm.
Please remember that blood pressure is affected by a great variety of factors. The following tips will help you get accurate readings when using a blood pressure monitor at home:
- Fit the cuff properly.
The device should have a detailed instruction on how to fit the cuff. Follow it to the letter to reduce a chance of mistakes. Note that some devices have different cuff sizes, so you’ll need to measure around your upper arm to choose the right one for you.
- Sit right.
Monitoring blood pressure at home is a procedure that requires precision and correct posture. Sit down on a chair that will support your back. Keep it straight with your feet firmly on the floor. It’s imperative not to cross your legs. Place the arm on a tabletop so that it’s supported and the upper arm is aligned to heart level.
- Prepare for the procedure.
Avoid smoking, exercising, and drinking any caffeinated beverages within at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. If you take any medications, discuss the reading times with a doctor as the majority of drugs affect this specific reading. You should also avoid exposure to cold or hot temperatures.
- Measure at the same times every day.
To compile an accurate chart necessary for your diagnosis, you should take the readings at specific times every day. Your doctor will help you develop a schedule to fit your lifestyle.
- Record the results carefully.
If your monitor has a memory function, take it with you to doctor’s appointments. Otherwise, record the readings in a special notebook.