American Heart Association and other organizations suggest that people with high blood pressure regularly monitor their blood pressure. Care providers can determine your treatment effectiveness by periodically checking your blood pressure.
There are many home blood pressure monitors available without a prescription. Learning how to choose and use a home blood pressure monitor is essential.
Why should I monitor my blood pressure at home?
Monitoring your blood pressure at home can:
Early diagnosis Self-monitoring can help your doctor diagnose high blood tension earlier than when you only take occasional readings at the medical office. Monitoring blood pressure at home is essential, especially if you have high blood pressure.
Track your treatment. Regularly checking your blood pressure is the only way to determine if your lifestyle changes and medications are working. You and your doctor can make treatment decisions by monitoring blood pressure at home. This includes adjusting medication dosages or adjusting lifestyle changes.
Promote better control. Self-monitoring can help you feel more in control of your health. Self-monitoring can help you feel more motivated to control your blood pressure through improved diet, exercise, and medication.
Reduce your medical costs by self-monitoring.
You can check for a different blood pressure outside a doctor’s office. People may experience spikes in their blood pressure during medical visits due to anxiety (white coat hypertension). Some people with normal blood pressure in a clinic may have higher blood pressure elsewhere. This is called “masked hypertension.” You can determine whether you have high blood pressure by monitoring your blood pressure at home.
Some people cannot monitor their blood pressure at home. Home blood pressure monitors may not be accurate for those with irregular heartbeats.
Home monitors come in many different types
Many pharmacies, medical stores, and websites offer home blood pressure monitors. Experts recommend automatic or electronic devices. Your doctor can help you choose the best monitor for you.
The essential components of a blood pressure monitor are the same:
Inflatable Cuff. It fills the inner layer of the cuff with air and squeezes your arm. The cuff’s outer layer has a cuff fastener that holds it in place. The device measures the change in motion of the artery while blood flows through the cuff.
Readouts for gauges. Some blood pressure monitors can take multiple readings and then report the average.
The most accurate digital monitors are mounted on the upper arm.
You don’t have a good-fitting upper armband at home if you have massive arms. In this case, measuring your blood pressure on the wrist or lower arms may be ok if you follow instructions and compare it to measurements at your doctor’s office. The American Heart Association recommends using a monitor with a cuff around your upper arm for the most accurate blood pressure reading.
Many pharmacies and shops have public blood-pressure devices for people who cannot check their blood pressure at home. These devices can vary in accuracy.
Considerations to make
Consider these factors when choosing a blood-pressure monitor:
Cuff Size. A properly fitting cuff will help you get accurate blood pressure measurements. Uncomfortable cuffs will not give precise measurements of blood pressure. Your healthcare provider can tell you what size cuffs you need.
Display. Blood pressure readings should be displayed in a clear, easy-to-read format.
Price. Prices can vary. Your health insurance provider may cover the cost of an at-home blood pressure monitor.
Use the correct terminology
It doesn’t matter which type of blood pressure monitor you choose at home you select; the proper use will require training and practice. You should take the device to a healthcare provider so they can make sure it is right for you. Use the monitor correctly.
How to ensure accurate blood-pressure monitoring at home.
Make sure that your monitor is working correctly. Have your doctor compare your monitor’s readings with those of the monitor at the office. You can also have your provider observe you using the device. Check the device if you damage or drop it.
Measure your blood pressure twice a day at the start. Do it in the morning, before you eat or take any medication. Repeat the test in the evening. Take two or three measurements each time to ensure your results are consistent. Your doctor may advise you to take your blood pressure every day simultaneously.
Do not measure your blood pressure immediately after waking up. Eat breakfast and take medication before you do. Take your blood pressure before exercising if you exercise directly after waking up.
For 30 minutes, avoid food, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol. Empty your bladder before you take a reading. A full bladder may increase your blood pressure.
Sit in silence before and during the monitoring. Before taking your blood pressure, sit comfortably for 5 minutes with your ankles and legs uncrossed. You should support your back against a chair. Be calm and avoid thinking about stressful situations. Talking while you are taking your blood pressure is not recommended.
Use the same arm to take your blood pressure. Rest your raised arm at the level of your chest on a desk, chair, or table arm. It may be necessary to place a cushion or pillow under your arm to lift it higher.
Do not place the cuff over the clothing. An arm that is tightly rolled up can interfere with the reading. It may be necessary to remove your arm from the sleeve.
Repeat the reading. After taking your first reading, wait 1 to 3 minutes before taking another. If your monitor does not keep track of assignments for blood pressure or heart rate, you can write them down.
The blood pressure changes throughout the day. Morning readings are a bit higher. Your blood pressure may be lower at home compared to a doctor’s office.
If you notice any abnormal increases in blood pressure, or if it remains higher than average, contact your doctor. You can ask your doctor at what level you should contact the office immediately.
How to track your blood pressure measurements
Some people keep a journal to record their readings.
You can enter your data using a mobile or computer if you have an electronic health record. You can share your readings with your family and healthcare providers. Some blood pressure monitors automatically upload the data.