How To Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home Using A Home Monitor
What If I Dont Have Equipment
You dont need a blood pressure cuff to take your resting heart rate, which is another measurement that helps indicate heart health. Digital monitors usually display both blood pressure and heart rate, but you can determine the former on your own by checking your pulse by hand. Your pulse is how many times your heart pumps per minute.
First, locate the artery below the thumb on the inside of your wrist and place two fingers there. Count how many times you feel your heartbeat over a 15-second period, and then multiply your count by four to get your resting heart rate.
When youre checking pulse by hand, youre looking for more than just a number. Youre also checking for a regular rhythm, which indicates a strong pulse.
Taking Your Blood Pressure
If you have a manual or digital blood pressure monitor, follow the instruction booklet carefully. The following steps provide an overview of how to take your blood pressure using either a manual or digital blood pressure monitor.
1. Locate your pulse
Locate your pulse by lightly pressing your index and middle fingers slightly to the inside center of the bend of the elbow. Here you can feel the pulse of the brachial artery. If you cannot locate a pulse, place the head of the stethoscope or the arm cuff in the same general area.
2. Secure the cuff
A. Thread the cuff end through the metal loop and slide the cuff onto your arm, making sure that the stethoscope head is over the artery. The lower edge of the cuff should be about 1 inch above the bend of your elbow. Use the Velcro wrap to make the cuff snug, but not too tight.
B. Place the stethoscope in your ears. Tilt the earpiece slightly forward to get the best sound.
3. Inflate and deflate the cuff
If you are using a manual monitor:
A. Hold the pressure gauge in your left hand and the bulb in your right.
B. Close the airflow valve on the bulb by turning the screw clockwise.
C. Inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb with your right hand. You may hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
D. Watch the gauge. Keep inflating the cuff until the gauge reads about 30 points above your expected systolic pressure. At this point, you should not hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
G. Continue to slowly deflate the cuff.
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Apps To Track Blood Pressure
Although there are apps that promise to check your blood pressure without using equipment, this isnt an accurate or reliable method.
However, there are apps available that can help you track your blood pressure results. This can be helpful in identifying patterns in your blood pressure. Your doctor may use this information to determine if you require blood pressure medications.
Some examples of free blood pressure-monitoring apps include:
- Blood Pressure Monitor Family Litefor iPhone. You can enter your blood pressure, weight, and height, as well as track the medications you take.
- Blood Pressure for Android. This app tracks your blood pressure and features several statistical and graphical analysis tools.
- Blood Pressure Companion for iPhone. This app allows you to track your blood pressure as well as view graphs and trends on your blood pressure readings across several days or weeks.
These apps can help you quickly and easily track your blood pressure readings. Measuring your blood pressure regularly on the same arm can help you most accurately track your blood pressure readings.
How To Check Your Blood Pressure At Home
Follow expert advice and a step-by-step video to ensure youre getting the most accurate numbers.
This post is part of a mini blog series dedicated to bringing awareness about your heart health during the American Heart Association’s national #HeartMonth. Miss the other stories? Catch up on 5 Eating Tips for a Healthy Heart, How to Know If You’re Having a Heart Attack, 10 Heart Tests Your Doctor Might Order and What They Mean and Getting Heart Healthy with a Mediterranean Diet.
To check your blood pressure, you just switch on a portable monitor and put a cuff on your arm, right? Actually, theres a little more to it than that, says cardiology nurse practitioner Tiffany Luke.
Its important people properly and closely monitor their blood pressure as this is how we determine therapy, Luke explains.
First things first: What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, can be caused by weight gain, alcohol and salt intake, older age and/or a family history. According to the CDC, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. Referred to as the silent killer, its not a reading that should be taken lightly. Controlling or lowering blood pressure can help prevent or delay high blood pressure complications including heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation and chronic kidney disease, says Luke.
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Sudden Spike In Blood Pressure Can Be Serious
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force that blood applies to your arterial walls as it pumps from your heart throughout your body. It also represents how hard your heart is working to push the blood. When blood pressure is higher, it means the heart must work harder to push blood through your system. In turn, the risk of heart disease or heart attack increases.
According to 2014 data, high blood pressure accounts for roughly 1,100 deaths every day in the United States, and only about half of all people with high blood pressure have it under control.
Disturbingly, most people may not even be aware that they have the condition, or are at least on the verge of becoming hypertensive. Some risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- Eating a high sodium/low potassium diet
- Not getting enough exercise/physical activity
- Overactive thyroid
- Overactive adrenal glands
A normal blood pressure is in the range of 120 mmHg/80 mmHg . The higher number represents systolic blood pressure and the lower represents diastolic. Prehypertension arises when systolic and diastolic pressures exceed these numbers, and hypertensionor high blood pressurearises when blood pressure reaches 140 mmHg/90mmHg.
Sometimes, however, something causes blood pressure to spike unexpectedlyand the higher your resting blood pressure is, the greater your risk of suffering a severe cardiac event becomes. Therefore, knowing how to lower blood pressure fast is very important.
What Is The Best Way To Measure Blood Pressure
The most accurate way to measure blood pressure is using a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. When you get your blood pressure measured at a medical office, your doctor uses a sphygmomanometer that includes a dial or column, pump, arm cuff, and stethoscope:
- The cuff is wrapped around your arm while your arm is kept at the same level as your heart.
- The pump tightens the cuff around your arm, putting pressure on the artery.
- Your doctor then releases the pressure and uses a stethoscope to measure your pulse rate.
- Your doctor records the pressure on the dial as your blood starts to flow back to your arm and checks two measurement points to determine your blood pressure reading.
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What Is Nhs England And Nhs Improvement Doing To Help
Since October 2020, over 220,000 blood pressure monitors have been distributed around England so that patients can record their blood pressure and send their readings to their GP practice to review, by telephone, email or via a remote monitoring platform.
In addition, those who already own a blood pressure monitor can discuss with their GP how to monitor their blood pressure at home. If you would like to buy a blood pressure monitor, please go to the British Heart Foundation giftshop.
Advantages Of Home Testing
Research has shown that home blood pressure readings are similar to blood pressure recorded by 24-hour ambulatory monitors .
In addition, home blood pressure readings eliminate the white-coat effect .
Besides routine monitoring for known or suspected high blood pressure, there are other reasons why your doctor may recommend home blood pressure checks. For instance, they may want to check the effectiveness of a current medication or a new low-salt diet change.
They may even use home blood pressure checks to monitor for low blood pressure in certain people or for a condition called masked hypertension .
In the end, though, your doctor will use your home blood pressure readings as an adjuvant to office blood pressure readings, not as a substitute. So be sure to continue seeing your doctor for regular check-ups.
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Why Leg Bloodpressure Readings
Adding a leg blood pressure reading into the mix can offer you a much broader handle on the true health of your arteries.
“Blood pressure can be measured in the arm, leg or even the foot,” says Michael J. Blaha, MD, MPH, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, in Baltimore. “This can be accomplished with a routine automated blood pressure cuff, and a comparison of the blood pressure in the leg or foot to the blood pressure in the arm can uncover circulation problems in the peripheral circulation.”
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, such circulation problems may be of particular concern to people who experience leg pain while walking. That could be a sign of peripheral arterial disease .
According to experts at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, PAD can develop when artery-clogging plaque builds up in the legs. Just like clogged heart arteries, PAD significantly raises the risk for a heart attack or stroke. The Mayo Clinic warns that about 10 percent of people older than 55 have it. When symptoms arise, getting an accurate PAD diagnosis sooner rather than later can be critical.
That’s where a quick, noninvasive and painless leg-based blood pressure reading can come in handy. Your doctor would first take an ankle-based blood pressure reading and then compare it with a standard arm blood pressure reading. The result is the so-called “ankle-brachial pressure index.”
Ensuring The Accuracy Of Your Blood Pressure Monitor Over Time
To ensure accuracy, manufacturers strongly recommend visiting your GP for your first measurement, where you should measure your blood pressure using both the GP’s monitor and your own . According to Dr Brian Morton from the Australian Medical Association, a fluctuation of about +/- 10mmHg is acceptable between different monitors, and we haven’t found an average fluctuation beyond this for any monitors we’ve reviewed.
You should go back and check your monitor’s readings against your GP’s machine every six months or so. Some monitor instructions also recommend sending the monitor back to the manufacturer every year for calibration.
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What Does My Blood Pressure Reading Mean
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you may have something called prehypertension. This means that you are at risk for high blood pressure.
|High blood pressure: Stage 2||160 or higher||100 or over|
*If you have diabetes or kidney disease, high blood pressure ranges may be lower than for other people. Or, if you are older than 65, goal blood pressure may be higher. Talk to your doctor about what is considered high blood pressure for you.
Blood Pressure Monitoring At Home
Many people monitor their blood pressure at home. They often do this to manage or treat a certain health condition. If you monitor your blood pressure at home, keep a record, or log, of the measurements. The record shows your doctor how your blood pressure changes throughout the day. If you take medicines to control your blood pressure, it will help document if they are working. Measuring your blood pressure at home is a good way to take part in managing your health.
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Should You Ignore Your Gps Readings
While the measurements taken by a doctor may not be perfect, they could be the first step to understanding your true underlying blood pressure level. Measuring it yourself as well, may assist doctors in making better treatment decisions that help you avoid a stroke or complications during your pregnancy.
What Is The Correct Way To Measure Blood Pressure
Learn the correct way to have your blood pressure taken, whether youre getting it checked at the doctors office or checking it yourself at home. Use this checklist:
- Dont eat or drink anything 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure.
- Empty your bladder before your reading.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes before your reading.
- Put both feet flat on the ground and keep your legs uncrossed.
- Rest your arm with the cuff on a table at chest height.
- Make sure the blood pressure cuff is snug but not too tight. The cuff should be against your bare skin, not over clothing.
- Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured.
If you are keeping track of your blood pressure at home, use these additional tips.
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What Affects A Blood Pressure Reading
Many things can affect a blood pressure reading, including:
- Nervousness about having your blood pressure taken. This is called white coat syndrome. As many as 1 in 3 people who have a high blood pressure reading at the doctors office may have normal blood pressure readings outside of it.1
- What you ate, drank, or did before your reading. If you smoked, drank alcohol or caffeine, or exercised within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured, your reading might be higher.2
- How you are sitting. Crossing your legs and letting your arm droop at your side rather than rest on a table at chest height can make your blood pressure go up.2
Its important to get an accurate blood pressure reading so that you have a clearer picture of your risk for heart disease and stroke.
A reading that says your blood pressure is lower than it actually is may give you a false sense of security about your health. A reading that says your blood pressure is higher than it actually is may lead to treatment you dont need.
What Cuff Size Do You Need
Most blood pressure monitors come with a medium sized cuff already fitted. While this will be suitable for the majority of users, there are different sized cuffs available for several of the monitors in our test if your arm is exceptionally large or small.
To get the right cuff size for an arm model, measure your arm’s circumference halfway between your shoulder and elbow, while standing with your arm hanging at your side. A circumference of 1822cm requires a small cuff, 2232cm requires a medium cuff, and above 32cm you’ll need a large cuff but check the measurements against the manufacturer’s instructions on the product you intend to buy.
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How Can I Check My Blood Pressure At Home Using
But you dont need to go to your doctor just to get a blood pressure reading. The easiest way to monitor your own blood pressure at home is to get a machine that has a blood pressure calculator and digital display.
Purchase a blood pressure monitor cuff that wraps around the upper arm. The cuff should fit well, and not be too loose or too tight when not in use. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because the readings arent as reliable. When choosing a blood pressure monitor, take it to your doctors office. They may be able to show you how to use it properly and check whether the machine provides accurate readings.
Here are some tips to follow while measuring your blood pressure at home:
- Before measuring your blood pressure, sit quietly for 5 minutes with your arm relaxed on a supporting surface at the level of your heart.
- Your back should be supported and both feet should be flat on the floor.
- The cuff should be positioned on your upper arm as instructed on the guide that came with the monitor. It is easier to use your non-dominant arm .
- Avoid caffeine, smoking, or exercise at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Do not take a reading if stressed or angry.
Blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association are as follows:
- Normal: Below 120/80 mm Hg
- Prehypertension: 120-139/80-90 mm Hg
Routine Blood Pressure Readings
Getting a blood pressure reading has become a routine fixture of the American health care landscape. For most people, it’s a goes-without-saying part of any yearly or biannual visit to your primary caregiver. For others, an occasional free screening at the local pharmacy does the trick.
For people at higher risk meaning those with a history of high blood pressure blood pressure readings are even more commonplace because many have followed an American Heart Association recommendation that encourages such people to do frequent home monitoring to ensure that ongoing blood pressure treatments are working.
The practice is both easy and cheap, with experts at Harvard Health Publishing pegging blood pressure home equipment at between $50 and $100. Some insurance plans even cover the cost.
This means that most Americans are all too familiar with the classic sight of an arm-wrapped neoprene cuff slowly pumping up and down. But here’s a fact that may be a surprise: Blood pressure readings are not actually limited to the arm.
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