Why Does My Blood Pressure Vary Throughout The Day
You may have heard the term circadian rhythm. If so, you know this is not a beat to keep on the dance floor. It is a biological cycle your body follows. As defined by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, âCircadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.â As your body cycles through this rhythm each day, responding to both internal and external stimuli, your blood pressure is affected.
The study of these important rhythms, known as chronobiology, was founded by Franz Halberg. His work in this field has helped identify abnormal rhythms in day-night blood pressure readings.Keeping the Beat of Blood PressureFollowing this chronobiological rhythm, your blood pressure is normally higher during the daytime and lower at night, during sleeping hours. Hereâs the problem. People with high blood pressure often donât experience this night time dip. This lack of a lowering of blood pressure at night is referred to as non-dipping.Whatâs the big deal? Heart attack and stroke have been found to be associated with non-dipping. Your blood pressure stays elevated, and your body is not in the relaxed state it should be during rest.
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.
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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But luckily, the conditions treatable. Patients with high blood pressure may only need to make heart healthy lifestyle changes such as a low sodium diet and weight loss for improvement or if necessary be started on medication.
The American Heart Association defines stage 1 hypertension as a blood pressure consistently over 130/80.
What Is Blood Pressure Testing
Blood pressure is usually measured in a seated position, with an arm resting in a bent position so it is at the same level as your heart. Your upper arm should be bare, with your sleeve comfortably rolled up.
Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury and are given as two numbers. For example, 110 over 70 .
- The top number is the systolic blood pressure reading. It represents the maximum pressure exerted when the heart contracts.
- The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure reading. It represents the minimum pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest.
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High Blood Pressure Treatment
Our providers may recommend lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure, such as:
- eating a healthy diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium
- increasing exercise and physical activity
- losing weight if you are overweight or obese, and maintaining a healthy weight
- quitting tobacco if you currently smoke or chew tobacco and
- limiting how much alcohol you drink.
Choosing A Home Blood Pressure Monitor
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor.
- Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
- Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice or find options at validatebp.org.
- When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
- Make sure the cuff fits measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
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Apps To Track Your 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 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 apps to monitor blood pressure include:
- Blood Pressure Monitor Family Lite for iOS. With this app, 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 iOS and macOS. 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.
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Do I Need To Use A Blood Pressure Checker
You may not need a blood pressure checker for every reading, but it will help manage blood pressure health. As you become familiar with your readings, using a blood pressure checker will advise how to improve and maintain healthy blood pressure.
The blood pressure calculator can be accessed via desktop, tablet or mobile.
If you have questions about taking blood pressure or using the blood pressure checker, contact us. If you are concerned about your reading after using this blood pressure calculator or any other blood pressure checker, seek medical advice.
Measuring Your Blood Pressure
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What Is Blood Pressure And How Is It Measured
The heart supplies the organs and tissues of the body with blood. With every beat, it pumps blood into the large blood vessels of the circulatory system. As the blood moves around the body, it puts pressure on the walls of the vessels. Blood pressure readings are made up of two values:
- Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while the heart muscle is contracting and pumping oxygen-rich blood into the blood vessels.
- Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure on the blood vessels when the heart muscle relaxes. The diastolic pressure is always lower than the systolic pressure.
Blood pressure is measured in units of millimeters of mercury . The readings are always given in pairs, with the upper value first, followed by the lower value.
So someone who has a reading of 132/88 mmHg has a
- systolic blood pressure of 132 mmHg, and a
- diastolic blood pressure of 88 mmHg.
What Do The Results Mean
Your results, also known as a blood pressure reading, will contain two numbers. The top or first number is the systolic pressure. The bottom or second number is the diastolic pressure. High blood pressure readings are also labeled by categories, ranging from normal to crisis. Your reading may show your blood pressure is:
|Blood Pressure Category|
|and||120 or higher|
If youâve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes and/or medicines to control your blood pressure. Your provider may also recommend that you regularly check your blood pressure at home with an automated blood pressure monitor. An at-home blood pressure monitor usually includes a blood pressure cuff and a digital device to record and display blood pressure readings.
Home monitoring is not a replacement for regular visits to your provider. But it can provide important information, such as whether treatment is working or your condition may have worsened. Also, home monitoring may make the test less stressful. Many people get nervous about getting their blood pressure taken at a providerâs office. This is called âwhite coat syndrome.â It can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, making the results less accurate. For more information about home monitoring of blood pressure, talk to your provider.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Why do I need to monitor my blood pressure at home?
- How often do I need to measure my blood pressure?
- What type of monitor should I use?
- What do my blood pressure readings mean?
- What is considered a normal blood pressure for me?
- What should I do if my readings are abnormal?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help manage my blood pressure?
- Do I need to take medicine to manage my blood pressure?
- What other things can affect a blood pressure reading?
At Home With A Monitor
Home monitoring can be a great way to keep track of your blood pressure on a daily basis.
With home monitoring, you can check your blood pressure throughout the day and at times that are convenient for you. It can help you see how your blood pressure changes throughout the day and help you get a sense of your average blood pressure range.
However, youll need to purchase a blood pressure monitor to do this. Youll also need to learn how to use it and how to record accurate readings.
Its not complicated to learn the basics of many home monitors, but it can still be easy to make a mistake.
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How To Check Blood Pressure At Home Without Equipment
Work has become an integral part of the world in which we live. Most people work very hard, so regular visits to the doctor for a full health check are a thing of the past.
However, it is important to monitor vital body functions. So today were going to look at one of the vital signs, blood pressure, what it means and how you can check it at home without equipment. Youve probably heard a lot about blood pressure and the importance of keeping it at a normal level.
Knowing that your body is functioning properly is one of the most important thing you have to pay attention to.
Keep A Blood Pressure Diary
Keep a blood pressure diary. Your records may help explain changes in your blood pressure readings and help your doctor make sure you get the right treatment.
Everyones blood pressure changes from day to day and even from minute to minute sometimes. Blood pressure tends to be higher in the morning and lower at night. Stress, smoking, eating, exercise, cold, pain, noise, medicines, and even talking can affect it.
Record your blood pressure numbers with the date and time. You might use a home blood pressure log or a spreadsheet on your computer. Your monitor might have a feature that will record your numbers for you. Some monitors can transfer this information to your computer.
Also record your daily activities, such as the time you take medicine or if you feel upset or feel stressed.
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When And Where To Get Your Blood Pressure Tested
You should have a blood pressure test if you’re worried about your blood pressure at any time.
If you’re over 40, you can have this test done as part of an NHS Health Check, which is offered to adults in England aged 40 to 74 every 5 years.
If you have been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure, or you have a high risk of developing either, you may need more frequent checks of your blood pressure.
You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:
- your local GP surgery
- some workplaces
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
It is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed and sitting. Blood pressure is usually measured by wrapping an inflatable pressure cuff around your upper arm.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, such as 120/80. The larger number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood during each beat. This is called the systolic blood pressure.
The lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. This is called the diastolic blood pressure. Both are measured in units called millimetres of mercury .
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How Do I Prepare For A Blood Pressure Test
Blood pressure testing should be done when you are calm, have not exercised recently, used a tobacco product or consumed caffeine in the last 30 minutes.
A blood pressure test is available at Walgreens Pharmacy. 1
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
1Test results are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the absence or presence of any health condition. Recipients are encouraged to report test results to their primary care physician. Pharmacist consultation with patient does not constitute medical advice.
This publication should be used for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this publication.
Remember That This Reading Is Normally Accurate
You should know that electronic blood pressure monitors are highly accurate at measuring BP. The most significant variable that can impact your readings is your current set and setting. If you are stressed out while watching a movie, for example, it can raise your heart rate. This is why it is so important to be relaxed while doing readings.
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What If Im Taking Medication Does This Affect When I Should Check My Blood Pressure
Yes. If taking high blood pressure medication, your blood pressure measurements should coincide with your doses. The best time to check it is before you take your medication. It is at this point that the level of medication in your body will be at its lowest. This is known as a trough value. Measuring your blood pressure before you take the next dose will demonstrate how well the medication has been working.
Another important variable to consider is symptoms. If you are experiencing a symptom of high blood pressure, it is a good idea to take a measurement then. Of course, if symptoms are severe, contact your doctor or seek immediate assistance.Common symptoms of high blood pressure include:
- Intense headaches
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
- Irregular heartbeat
- Breathing issues
Measuring your blood pressure while experiencing these symptoms can help determine if high blood pressure is the cause. It is also possible that your medication has lowered your blood pressure too much. A blood pressure reading during symptoms can also help determine if an adjustment to your medication is needed, either in dosage or time of day it is taken.
Working With Your Doctor Or Nurse
You wont usually make a decision about treatment based solely on the readings you have taken at home. But they may find it useful to know what youre blood pressure is like when youre away from the clinic.
Talk to your doctor or nurse before you start to measure your blood pressure at home. They advise you on when to measure your blood pressure and how often, and this can help you both to be clear about what you are doing and why.
Bring your records with you to your appointments so they can use it to review your treatment.
Make sure your monitor is suitable and you know how to use it
It is a good idea to bring your monitor to the appointment so that your doctor or nurse can check that it is validated and accurate, that it fits properly, and that you know how to use it. They can show you if youre not sure.
For further information on home monitoring, download our booklet, .
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