Monitoring High Blood Pressure at Home
Has your doctor recommended keeping closer tabs on your blood pressure? One convenient way to do this is by monitoring your blood pressure at home, in between doctor visits. You can do this in a matter of minutes.
But first, a refresher. What is blood pressure and what do the numbers mean? Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure is actually the measure of two numbers. Systolic pressure is the force on artery walls when your heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the force on your arteries between beats – when your heart is relaxed. Blood pressure is invisible and silent, but can also be deadly when it's too high – 140/90 or higher.1
Home monitors can help in many ways. You can use them to spot high blood pressure (hypertension) early, especially if you have another condition that puts you at higher risk. The American Heart Association suggests that anyone with high blood pressure – that's one-third of American adults2 – keeps monitoring it at home. Home monitors are a way to see if your medication and lifestyle changes are keeping your blood pressure within a safe range. All in all, home monitors can help you take control of your health while cutting health care costs. 3
You can buy a home monitor right here in our store without a prescription. If you need help finding the right one for you, let me know. But here is some information to get your started.
Home monitors have these parts:
- An inflatable cuff or strap. An inner layer fills with air and squeezes your arm. An out layer holds the cuff in place. You inflate the cuff manually by pumping a bulb. Or, this occurs at the touch of a button using a digital device. This depends upon the type you buy.
- A gauge. This is either a digital readout or a dial that points to the blood pressure number.
Not all home monitors have stethoscopes, but if yours does, you can listen to the sounds your blood makes as it flows through an artery in the crook of your elbow. Digital cuffs record this information for you.3
Here are some things to consider before buying a home monitor:
- If you're overweight or very muscular, look for a monitor with a larger arm cuff.
- A digital wrist monitor might be best if you can't find an arm cuff that fits, or if arm monitors cause too much discomfort.
- If you have hearing loss, a monitor with a digital display might be best.
- Although available, devices that measure blood pressure at your finger aren't recommended. 3
Just getting started? Give yourself some time to learn how to use your home monitor. Measure your blood pressure twice daily to start, but not right when you first wake up. Avoid food, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco for at least 30 minutes beforehand. Empty your bladder and sit still for at least three to five minutes before beginning. Raise your arm to heart level and don't talk while testing.3
If you run into any trouble, bring your home monitor to me and we can make sure you're using it properly and that it's calibrated for accurate readings. I'm here to help.
- MedlinePlus: "High Blood Pressure." http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/highbloodpressure.html
- NIH News: "NIH Study: High blood pressure linked to steeper decline in walking speeds in seniors." http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2011/nhlbi-15.htm
- Mayo Clinic: "Get the most out of home blood pressure monitoring." http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00016/METHOD=print