How To Use A Home Blood Pressure Monitor
- Be still. Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least 5 minutes of quiet rest before measurements.
- Sit correctly.Sit with your back straight and supported . Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the bottom of the cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow. Check your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or have your healthcare provider show you how.
- Measure at the same time every day. Its important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening. It is best to take the readings daily however ideally beginning 2 weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.
- Take multiple readings and record the results. Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results using a tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
- Don’t take the measurement over clothes.
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Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.
How And When To Check Your Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is normal , the AHA says you should get it checked whenever you see your doctor or at least once every two years. Check with your health plan about benefits, or learn more about Medicare coverage here.
If your blood pressure is elevated or high, your doctor may want to check it more often or may ask you to regularly check it at home, possibly multiple times per day. This is easy to do: You can buy a blood pressure monitor at most drugstores. Many of the devices on the market today are digital and self-inflating.
To get an accurate reading, follow your particular devices instructionsor better yet, ask your doctor or pharmacist to walk you through it once. For many monitors, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends resting for three to five minutes and sitting with your legs uncrossed. Place your left arm on a table or desk so that your arm is level with your heart. Wrap the cuff around the upper part of your arm, sit still, and dont talk during the test.
Target Your High Blood Pressure
Once you have been diagnosed with hypertension, remember that high blood pressure can be lowered. For most people, blood pressure readings should be lower than 140/90 mmHg when measured in the doctors office. At home, your blood pressure should generally be below 135/85 mmHg. For those people with diabetes or kidney disease, lower blood pressure is even more important and should be below 130/80 mmHg when measured in the doctors office.
Most people who lead healthy lifestyles do not suffer from high blood pressure. For those with hypertension, following the steps outlined above will lower their blood pressure.
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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.
Can You Take Your Blood Pressure At Home
Yes, you can take your blood pressure at home. If youve had high readings at your doctors office or experiencing symptoms like blurry vision, lightheadedness or headaches, your doctor may suggest monitoring your blood pressure at home.
One of the big reasons why is that were trying to rule out what we call white coat hypertension, says Dr. Distel. Thats when its high in the office, but normal at home. So checking at home gives you a lot more information when trying to decide if someone should be on medication or needs to be treated in some way.
But even if your readings at your doctors office are normal, Dr. Distel suggests taking your blood pressure at home to make sure its still in the safe range.
Some people can average a higher blood pressure at home, she says. Checking it at home can help to get a better sense of where youre at on average because if you only rely on the blood pressures in the office, thats few and far between and you may be missing out on an opportunity to improve your health.
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Who Should Have A Blood Pressure Check
High blood pressure can develop at any age. Over 2.1million adults under 45 had high blood pressure in England in 2015.
If you are under 40 and you dont know your numbers, its a good idea to have a check, especially if youre carrying extra weight, you smoke, or you have any of the s that mean youre more likely to have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure becomes more common with age, so if you are over 40, you should at least every five years.
How Do I Take My Blood Pressure
Before taking your blood pressure:
- Find a quiet place.
- Roll up the sleeve on your left arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed.
- Rest in a chair next to a table for five to 10 minutes.
- Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed.
- Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.
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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.
If You Need Two Medications
Many types of blood pressure drugs work best when taken together. When taking two drugs together, diuretics have been shown to lower blood pressure with a beta-blocker, ACE inhibitor and an ARB. A calcium channel blocker lowers blood pressure with the same drugs that work well with a diuretic. Other drug combinations are necessary when taking three or more blood pressure medications. There may be other reasons why your doctor may prescribe two blood pressure medications. For example, after heart attacks, doctors will prescribe a beta-blocker and an ACE inhibitor, but this is not primarily to reduce blood pressure.
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Testing Your Blood Pressure At Home
Your GP may suggest 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring if they think you may have high blood pressure .
ABPM tests your blood pressure regularly over 24 hours, by using a cuff attached to a portable device that’s worn on your waist.
You can continue with your daily activities during this time.
If you want to regularly check your blood pressure at home, you can buy a machine.
Quick Guide To Monitoring Your Blood Pressure At Home
If you are thinking about keeping an eye on your blood pressure levels or are simply curious about your heart health, measuring your blood pressure at home is not only wise, but also easy. Read here about why you should measure blood pressure frequently.Do I need a doctor to check my blood pressure?No. There is a variety of blood pressure monitors designed for home use to meet your needs. You can go with a traditional one and keep a manual diary of your readings or upgrade to a smart blood pressure monitor such as QardioArm and build a complete heart health journal on your smartphone or tablet. When you measure your blood pressure outside of the doctors office, it is important to use a blood pressure monitor with clinically validated accuracy. You should always contact your physician if hypertensive values are indicated.
Why you should measure your blood pressure at homeHow often should I check my blood pressure?Whats the right way to measure blood pressure at home?Why should I measure blood pressure several time a day?
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How Often Should I Check My Blood Pressure
Different people with varying levels of blood pressure control will all have different needs. Someone who has had a history of heart disease, heart attack or stroke may need to check more often, for example, but others with low risk and stable blood pressure may only need to keep an eye on the trend. Here are some common recommendations from the experts.
Since blood pressure tends to rise and fall given different situations – exercise, a good tv show, stress, fever, infection, or eating a large meal, itâs important to never just rely on one reading per week. This oftentimes doesn’t give you a clear picture of just how high, or how low your blood pressure may be. To let your doctor better understand your readings and prescribe medications appropriate to your specific needs, they need to see more numbers.
Once we have some idea of how your blood pressure trends at rest, and those numbers are stable, then we can switch to a different schedule for checking or a reduced frequency, depending on your blood pressure trend analysis.
How Do Health Care Professionals Measure My Blood Pressure
First, a health care professional wraps an inflatable cuff around your arm. The health care professional then inflates the cuff, which gently tightens on your arm. The cuff has a gauge on it that will measure your blood pressure.
The health care professional will slowly let air out of the cuff while listening to your pulse with a stethoscope and watching the gauge. This process is quick and painless. If using a digital or automatic blood pressure cuff, the health care professional will not need to use a stethoscope.
The gauge uses a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury to measure the pressure in your blood vessels.
If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care team about steps to take to control your blood pressure to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Use this list of questions to ask your health care team pdf icon to help you manage your blood pressure.
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High Blood Pressure: Nhs Doctor Explains Causes
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High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms which makes the condition difficult to identify. The only way to find out if you have it is to have your blood pressure checked with a monitor.
This is important because spotting any problems as early as possible reduces the risk of complications.
These include cardiovascular disease such as angina, stroke, heart attack and heart failure, kidney disease, and gout.
So how often should you check your blood pressure to find out if you have the condition?
Advantages Of Home Testing
Research has shown that home blood pressure readings are similar to blood pressures recorded by 24-hour ambulatory monitors. These monitors are the gold standard for predicting a person’s risk for heart disease.
Home blood pressure readings may eliminate the white-coat effect. The phrase describes how a person’s blood pressure may rise when they visit their healthcare provider’s office. It is very common.
Your healthcare provider may recommend home blood pressure checks for other reasons besides a careful monitoring for high blood pressure. For instance, they may want to see whether a drug used to control blood pressure is working. Or they may want to look for any changes if you adopt a new low-salt diet.
They may use home blood pressure checks to monitor for low blood pressure in certain people. It also may be useful to monitor for masked hypertension. This happens when your blood pressure is normal at your healthcare provider’s office but it is higher at home.
In the end, though, your healthcare provider will use your home blood pressure readings alongside the office blood pressure readings. They are not meant as a substitute, so be sure to continue seeing your provider for regular checkups.
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Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure To Look Out For
Going for a regular high blood pressure test is a good way to stay on top of your bodys health. However, you can back this up by keeping an eye out for symptoms of high blood pressure between tests.
- blood in your urine
- a pounding noise in your chest, neck or ears.
If you experience any of these symptoms, its a good idea to go for a blood pressure screening as soon as possible. This will make sure you can get on top of it before it causes any serious damage!
Checking Blood Pressure Too Often
When youve become diagnosed with high blood pressure, its typical to want to check your pressure at different times during the day. As with any other interest, your thoughts on the topic can pop into your head all day long. I know what its like to wonder if the activity I just performed or food I ate increased or lowered my blood pressure. These thoughts are normal and sometimes it leads you to want to wrap that cuff around your arm, press the start button and check your pressure.
Can you check your blood pressure too often? Yes, its unnecessary to check your blood pressure all day long. Your physician will advise you how often to check your blood pressure and at what time. It will depend on your treatment and condition. Typically, most medical experts suggest checking your pressure no more than 2 times a day.
If youre monitoring your pressure at home, give yourself a pat on the back. More and more, medical experts are recommending people to take blood pressure measurements at home. Home monitoring can help you partner with your physician and improve your blood pressure goals . If you dont and youre thinking about purchasing your own monitor, you can check my blog post on the one I recommend.
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How Often Should You Check Your Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
When it comes to heart health, its all about knowing your numbers: your body mass index , your waist circumference, your blood pressure, and cholesterol. These are numbers that when above normal, can indicate a higher risk for developing heart disease. They are also numbers that you can do something about with lifestyle change like weight loss, eating well, and getting more active! Since its February and National Heart Health Month, we want to answer this question: How often should you have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked?
Based on physical appearance alone, its fairly easy to determine if your BMI or waist circumference is high. If you arent sure, there are many easy-to-use tools to help you understand these numbers. On the contrary, high blood pressure and high cholesterol very rarely show any signs or symptoms, so it can be difficult to know where your levels stand unless you get them checked. This can be dangerous, because the longer high blood pressure or high cholesterol are left undetected, the more damage they do to the body, possibly even silently leading to a stroke or heart attack. As the American Heart Association says, When it comes to risk factors like high cholesterol, ignorance is not bliss. It can be deadly.
So the only way to really know if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol is to have them checked. Back to our question: How often should you have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked?