What Can I Do To Help Better Manage My Blood Pressure
Managing your blood pressure doesnt have to take a lot of work. In fact, small improvements to your lifestyle can help.
- Exercise: Just be a little more active. Walk instead of drive take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
- Eat Smart: Try to find low-fat, low-sodium substituted that also taste great. Potassium found in bananas and carrots is natures best medicine for your heart.
- Kick the Habits: Minimize your alcohol and cigarette intake.
- Stifle Your Stress: Stress is a normal part of life. But too much can increase the risk of heart disease. Relax by doing things you enjoy and your heart can benefit.
- Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home: Monitoring your blood pressure at home on a regular basis provides you and your doctor with the information to best manage your blood pressure.
These are just some examples. Discuss with your doctor on other ways how you can better your heart.
When To See The Doctor
The doctor should check your monitor at least once a year. This ensures that the measurements are accurate.
Only a doctor can diagnose you with high blood pressure. A diagnosis requires multiple readings, so keeping a log is important. You should also log the time of day you youre your blood pressure. Contact your doctor if you have high readings for several days. Be sure to take your blood pressure log with you to the visit.
Hypotension is low blood pressure. This occurs when your systolic pressure is consistently below 90 or is 25 points below your normal reading. Contact your doctor if you have low readings. Hypotension can be a sign of shock, which is life threatening. Call your doctor right away if you are dizzy or lightheaded.
Why Trust Verywell Health
Christina Oehler is the commerce editor for Verywell Health and has an RYT-200 Certification. She previously worked as an assistant editor for Health magazine. While testing blood pressure monitors at The Lab, she focused on the integrity of the test and created a methodology that helped thoroughly review the products through the eyes of a buyer. Christina conducted side-by-side comparisons of each blood pressure monitor and consulted a neurologist for the best techniques to get the most thorough insights to provide to buyers.
Additional reporting to this story by Danielle Zoellner
As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.
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Why Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home
The stress of having your blood pressure measured in clinic can make your blood pressure go up temporarily, so your reading is higher than it should be this is known as the .
Coupled with the fact you can only check your blood pressure in a clinic every so often, keeping an eye on your numbers at home can give you and your doctor or nurse a more complete picture of what your blood pressure is like from day to day, and how well your treatments or lifestyle changes are working.
Many people also find that monitoring their blood pressure at home helps them feel more in control, so since 2001, NICE have recommended GPs offer home blood pressure monitoring.
Comparison With Existing Literature
At 42%, ownership of home BP monitors in the study presented here was slightly higher than in previous published surveys of patients with hypertension in the UK, but is in keeping with GPs estimates of patient self-monitoring. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the likelihood of preferential responses from monitor owners who wanted their equipment tested, although the authors emphasised also being interested in receiving null responses and included a self-addressed envelope to encourage all those contacted to respond.
Previous work from outside of the UK has generally found much worse performance than found in the study presented here: a Canadian study conducted between 2011 and 2014 found that around a third of patients monitors showed a difference of > 5 mmHg compared with a mercury measurement. No statistically significant difference was found between monitors that were accurate versus those that were not when grouped according to patient characteristics, cuff size, or the brand of the home monitor in the Canadian study. Even greater inaccuracy was identified by a different Canadian group, with 69% of devices showing differences of 5 mmHg and no improvement in performance for validated machines. However, a Korean study using the same methodology found monitor failure rates of 15% similar to those in the study presented here and that inaccuracy was more common in unvalidated devices than those that were validated .
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How To Best Check Your Blood Pressure At Home
No matter what type of monitor you use, you can take steps to make sure youre getting the most accurate reading possible. For accurate readings, its a good idea to:
- Make sure you know how to work your at-home monitor. Read the instructions carefully and ask a healthcare professional to show you if youre still unsure how to use it.
- Avoid cigarettes, caffeine, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure.
- Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
- Use the bathroom and make sure your bladder is empty before you begin.
- Try to sit still for at least 5 minutes before taking your blood pressure.
- Roll up your sleeve so youre not taking your reading over clothing.
- Sit with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Dont cross your legs.
- Rest your arm on a flat surface like a table or desk.
- Place the cuff correctly on your arm. Check the instructions again if you need a refresher.
- Take two or three readings and record them all.
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If You Get A High Blood Pressure Reading
- A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
- If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.
What To Watch Out For When Choosing And Using Your Own Device
- University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
- Seventy percent of readings from home blood pressure monitors are unacceptably inaccurate, which could cause serious implications for people who rely on them to make informed health decisions, new research reveals.
Seventy per cent of readings from home blood pressure monitors are unacceptably inaccurate, which could cause serious implications for people who rely on them to make informed health decisions, new UAlberta research reveals.
“High blood pressure is the number one cause of death and disability in the world,” said medical researcher Jennifer Ringrose, who led the research study. “Monitoring for and treating hypertension can decrease the consequences of this disease. We need to make sure that home blood pressure readings are accurate.”
Ringrose and her team tested dozens of home monitors and found they weren’t accurate within five mmHg about 70 per cent of the time. The devices were off the mark by 10 mmHg about 30 per cent of the time.
The findings are extremely relevant given millions of patients are asked to monitor their blood pressure through a device at home and report the results back to their doctor.
The researchers say steps can be taken to minimize inaccurate readings.
In 2015 Canadian guidelines were updated to endorse greater use of home blood pressure monitoring. The guidelines recommend 28 measurements over one week for home devices.
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4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best blood pressure monitors we tested. We recommend them without reservation.
4.5 to 4.7 stars: These blood pressure monitors are excellentthey might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.
4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great blood pressure monitors, but others are better.
3.5 to 3.9 stars: These blood pressure monitors are just average.
3.4 and below: We don’t recommend blood pressure monitors with this rating you won’t find any on our list.
Verywell Health / Nick Kova
Tips For Analog Blood Pressure Monitors
If youre using a digital wrist or upper arm monitor, your results will be displayed on the screen. If youre using an analog monitor, youll need to read the numbers yourself.
Analog blood pressure monitors have a dial with a hand, much like the hands of a clock, on it. Youll read this hand to find your blood pressure. A healthcare professional can show you how to do this on your specific monitor model, but you can see the general steps below:
- Wrap the cuff around your arm and make sure you can see the dial.
- Place the flat base of the stethoscope under the cuff and put the ear tips in your ears.
- Turn the valve on the bulb to close the airflow.
- Squeeze the bulb rapidly to inflate the cuff.
- Keep squeezing until the hand on the dial hits 180.
- Slowly turn the valve back to deflate the cuff.
- Listen for your pulse in the stethoscope and record where the hand is on the dial when you first hear it.
- Keep listening until you can no longer hear your pulse, and record where the hand is on the dial when you stop hearing your pulse.
- Let the rest of the air out of the cuff.
As an example, if you first heard your pulse when the hand was at 135 on the dial and last heard it when the hand was at 78, that would be a blood pressure reading of 135/78.
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Not Using The Cuff Correctly
Make sure you are wrapping the cuff around your arm in the correct position. After wrapping the cuff around your arm, check the location of the brachial artery marker. The air tube should run down the center of your arm. The cuff should not be wrapped too tight or too loose. Look at the instruction manual for the monitor to get more detailed instructions on the specific cuff included with your unit.
How Do I Assemble And Apply The D
When the cuff is assembled correctly, the hook material will be on the outside of the cuff loop and the metal d-ring will not touch your skin. If the cuff is not assembled, pass the end of the cuff furthest from the tubing through the metal d-ring to form a loop. The smooth cloth should be on the inside of the cuff loop.
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What Is The Difference Between Monitoring Blood Pressure Using A Home Digital Monitor As Opposed To Getting My Reading When I See My Doctor
Digital monitors measure blood pressure oscillometrically rather than by auscultation. In auscultation, stethoscopes are used to take blood pressure by listening for specific heartbeat sounds which the doctor then uses to determine systolic and diastolic pressures. Oscillometric technology measures the vibration of blood traveling through the arteries and converts the movement into digital readings.
OMRON digital blood pressure monitors use the oscillometric method of blood pressure measurement. An oscillometric monitor does not need a stethoscope so the monitor is simple to use.
It is also important to note that Home Blood Pressure monitoring allows you to monitor frequently and share the results with your doctor if you desire.
I Bought A Blood Pressure Monitor But The Cuff Is Too Small Can I Buy A Bigger Cuff Or Do I Need To Buy A Whole New Blood Pressure Monitor
Most blood pressure monitors come with a one-size-fits-most cuff for upper arms measuring 9.016.5 inches. Getting a blood pressure cuff that fits right is critical for accurate readings.
If your upper arm measures more than 16.5 inches around, you should get a bigger cuff. You can usually purchase extra cuffs separately, and most are compatible with various blood pressure machines. Just make sure your tubing is the correct size to connect with your monitor.
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What Equipment Do I Need To Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
To measure your blood pressure at home, you can use either an aneroid monitor or digital monitor. Choose the type of monitor that best meets your needs. Look at the following features when you select a monitor.
- Size: The right cuff size is very important. The cuff size you need is based on the size of your arm. You can ask the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to help you. Blood pressure readings can be wrong if your cuff is the wrong size.
- Price: Cost may be a key factor. Home blood pressure units vary in price. You may want to shop around to find the best deal. Keep in mind that pricey units may not be the best or most accurate.
- Display: The numbers on the monitor should be easy for you to read.
- Sound: You must be able to hear your heartbeat through the stethoscope .
Tests show that finger and wrist devices do not always provide correct measurements. These devices are sensitive to placement and body temperature. They also are expensive and can cost more than $100.
The aneroid monitor manually checks your blood pressure. It has a gauge that you read by looking at a pointer on the dial. The cuff goes around your upper arm, and you squeeze a rubber bulb to inflate it by hand.
Inflation of the cuff is either automatic or manual, depending on the model. Deflation is automatic. Digital monitors are good for hearing-impaired patients, since there is no need to listen to your heartbeat through the stethoscope.
What Are Some Common Reasons Why My Blood Pressure Readings Seem Higher Than Expected
There are many reasons why blood pressure readings may seem high. Below are some of the common reasons and the estimated ranges of how much readings can vary. It is important to ensure you are using the monitor as it was intended, so please make sure you are following the directions in the instruction manual, or call our consumer support line at if you have questions. It is also important to note that if you can continue to see high readings, discuss with your doctor or a medical professional it is possible that your blood pressure is actually higher than what you believe it to be.
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Home Monitoring During Coronavirus
If you monitor your blood pressure at home, keep going as normal, whether thats once a week or once a month, for example. There is no need to check your blood pressure more often unless your doctor or another health professional has advised you to do so.
If you notice a consistent rise in your blood pressure, contact your GP or practice nurse by phone and they will advise you if you need an appointment. Dont worry about one-off high readings, its normal for your numbers to vary.
If you are looking to buy a home monitor, please see our advice below on how to choose one. You can also read the reasons why home monitoring can be helpful and if its right for you in this section, and and to measure your blood pressure.
Feel free to contact our blood pressure helpline by phone on 020 7882 6218 or by email at with questions about home monitoring, your blood pressure and heart health.
While you are at home, if you notice unusual symptoms that you are concerned about do contact your doctor by phone or online, or another NHS service. Always call 999 in an emergency, for example if you think you are having a heart attack or stroke even if youre not sure. The NHS would much rather you seek help than go without treatment you need. See the signs of a heart attack and signs of stroke from the NHS.
Make sure you keep taking your . If you need any advice, pharmacies are open and will be able to support you.
If you’re lending your monitor to a friend