What Support Is Available For Patients
The British Heart Foundation has a wide range of tools and information available to support patients learn about their high blood pressure. These resources can be found on their Manage your blood pressure at home hub, which was created to help measure and manage blood pressure at home during the pandemic. It includes:
- How to measure blood pressure at home video: Video demonstration with a BHF senior cardiac nurse, showing patients how to measure blood pressure at home.
- High blood pressure and coronavirus: BHF medical experts answer questions about how the COVID-19 coronavirus can affect people with heart disease, including hypertension.
- Six tips for reducing blood pressure:Tips to help reduce your blood pressure, or control it, following a diagnosis of high blood pressure.
- Understanding blood pressure booklet: Booklet for people with high blood pressure to help them understand the condition. Including information on what high blood pressure is and how to reduce it. This is available to download or to order in print.
- Online community: Free online space for people with heart and circulatory conditions to get information and support from people who are going through similar situations.
Other useful resources:
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Decide On A Wrist Or Arm
If you’re able to wear an arm-based blood pressure monitor, you should: When it comes to at-home monitoring, the AHA only recommends the use of upper-arm cuff oscillometric devices that have successfully passed validation protocols.
Wrist- and finger-based blood pressure monitors typically aren’t as accurate, Yale Medicine cardiologist Erica S. Spatz, MD tells CNET.
However, there are some circumstances in which a wrist- or finger-based blood pressure monitor might be preferable to an arm-based monitor, such as if you have a disability that prevents you from affixing an arm-based monitor or if your arms are too large to fit in an arm cuff .
The Qardio Arm wireless blood pressure monitor has passed British and Irish Hypertension Society validation protocols.
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How To Choose A Blood Pressure Monitor For Home Use
To choose a reliable blood pressure monitor, you should:
- Ask your doctor for their recommendations.
- Choose an AHA-validated monitor .
- Get an upper arm BP monitor unless you have a problem fitting the cuff around your arm, in which case you can use a wrist BP monitor.
- Select the right cuff size. According to the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, adult cuff sizes are categorized as:
- Adult small: Arm circumference of 22 to 26 centimeters .
- Adult average: Arm circumference of 27 to 34 centimeters .
- Adult large: Arm circumference of 35 to 44 centimeters .
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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New Technology To Improve Reading Accuracy Of Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
In order to measure BP accurately, the cuff must be wrapped correctly and proper posture of the patient during the measurement is essential. Users can find it difficult to wrap the cuff in the correct position, especially if they are inexperienced. If the cuff is wrapped incorrectly then the result is less accurate. In addition, irregular pulses due to arrhythmias lead to inaccurate BP readings. Home monitoring devices equipped with automated cuff wrapping and a display indicating correct positioning have been introduced. These devices can detect irregular pulses that cause inaccurate BP readings. Moreover, they detect noises and wave pulses within the cuff that are caused by arm movements. These device functions may help provide more accurate BP readings.
Intelli Wrap Cuff Technology
Choosing And Using A Home Blood Pressure Monitor
There are dozens of home blood pressure monitors on the market, ranging in price from about $50 to $100. For best accuracy and ease of use, buy one with a cuff for the upper arm that automatically inflates and that automatically records the pressure. Models that store readings for a week or two can simplify record keeping.
Be sure to choose one with the correct cuff sizethe inflatable part should completely cover at least 80% of your bare upper arm. Test it in the store to be sure it’s easy to use. Note that the American Heart Association doesn’t recommend wrist or finger home blood pressure monitors, as they are not as reliable.
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Is Using A Home Blood Pressure Monitor Right For You
Measuring your blood pressure with a home blood pressure monitor can be very useful, but its not for everyone. Some people become more anxious when they start measuring at home and end up taking readings too often, this can even temporarily raise your blood pressure.
In our 2016 survey of home monitoring, nine out of 10 said home monitoring is helpful, reassuring or empowering, while 13% found it caused anxiety.
Before you decide to try monitoring your blood pressure at home, ask yourself: will using a home blood pressure monitor make me feel more relaxed or more worried?
Some health problems may also mean that home monitoring isnt suitable for you, for example conditions that affect your pulse such as . There is also little known about the benefits of home monitoring during and for people with . Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether home monitoring is suitable for you.
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, orpharmacist 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.
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Choose A Clinically Validated Monitor
If a machine is clinically validated, this means it has been tested to make sure it gives results that are accurate and reliable, so you and your doctor can trust them.
The British and Irish Hypertension Society have a list of clinically validated home blood pressure monitors on their website, as well as a list of monitors for use in clinic.
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. 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.
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What Is A Blood Pressure Monitor
Blood pressure monitors are digital medical devices that allow people to check their blood pressure levels and track their readings anywhere at any time, often independently. While many medical professionals use a stethoscope to listen to your blood pressure manually, these monitors measure your blood pressure with oscillometric technology, measuring the vibration of blood traveling through your arteries and converting that movement into digital readings.
Blood pressure monitors often come with the monitor itself and a cuff, either for your upper arm or wrist. The American Heart Association recommends using upper arm cuffs, as they provide more accurate readings than wrist cuffs.
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.
Everyone’s 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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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?
How To Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home
To make sure that you are using your BP monitor correctly, practice using it with your medical provider during a doctors appointment. You can compare the readings from your BP monitor with theirs and talk about any accuracy issues your monitor may have.
- Measure your BP after resting for at least 5 minutes.
- Dont measure your BP immediately after exercise, drinking coffee, or consuming tobacco . Wait at least 30 minutes.
- Since BP measured when you are stressed may be higher, its best to relax for some time before taking your BP.
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Help Your Doctor Helpyou
Its important to keep a good record of these measurement toshow your doctor, who can help determine if your medication is doing its job. Doingthis will also reveal longer-term trends in your blood pressure.
Dr. Laffin recommends logging this information each time:
- Average of your three blood pressure readings
- Heart rate at the time of the reading
- Time of day it was taken
- Any other symptoms you are feeling at that time
How long does it take for a new blood pressure medicine tostart working? Oftentimes youll see results within a few days, but to get thepeak effect, you usually have to be on medicine for 10 to 14 days, he says.
How To Monitor Blood Pressure Correctly
Follow these steps to correctly measure your blood pressure. If you have questions, contact your healthcare team.
Be sure to see your healthcare provider if youre consistently having high blood pressure readings at home.
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What Support Is Available For Nhs Staff
The has a number of resources to support NHS staff to implement home blood pressure monitoring in their local area, such as:
- Standard Operating Procedure
- Webinars and staff training videos
- Patient stratification tools
Alternatively, the British and Irish Hypertension Society have resources for healthcare professionals.
Compliance And Improvement Of Blood Pressure Control
Incorporation of HBPM into routine management of patients with uncontrolled hypertension may improve BP control. Several meta-analyses have shown that compared with usual care, the use of HBPM is associated with significant reductions in systolic and diastolic BP, as well as reductions in antihypertensive medication and therapeutic inertia, defined as unchanged medication despite elevated BP. While most studies have focused on white populations, some studies have looked at ethnically diverse adults with uncontrolled BP and high-risk patients and with baseline BP of at least 130/80 mmHg) from clinics in low-income, medically underserved communities. Studies are also ongoing in stroke and at-risk groups.
Some studies suggest that HBPM may contribute towards medication adherence in hypertensive patients, although others have not reached this conclusion. NICE guidelines still recommend ABPM where possible.
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Monitoring Blood Pressure At Home
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, known medically as hypertension, your doctor may recommend that you use a home monitor to check your blood pressure between visits.
High blood pressure has been called the “silent killer.” The name may seem grandiose, but it’s unfortunately accurate: High blood pressure has no symptoms and it can lead to life-threatening illnesses, strokes, and heart attacks. While 50 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have high blood pressure, as many as a third of them may not know it.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, known medically as hypertension, your doctor may recommend that you use a home monitor to check your blood pressure between visits. Despite what you might think, devices that you can buy in the drugstore or at the mall can be reliable, accurate, and affordable. But there are a lot of monitors out there, and it’s crucial to get a good one.
How Do I Know If My Monitor Is Accurate Or If I Am Using It Correctly
Once you buy your device, have your doctor check it for accuracy. They should check your monitor once a year. On your own, periodically check the tubing for cracks and leaks. Proper care and storage are necessary. Make sure the tubing is not twisted when you store it. Keep it away from heat.
Ask your doctor or nurse to teach you how to use your blood pressure monitor correctly. This will help you achieve good results in controlling your blood pressure.
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What Kind Should I Use
Of the different types available, Sheldon Sheps, MD, emeritus professor at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, says that you should get only an electronic one with a digital display. The other kinds — such as aneroid or mercury devices — require training with a stethoscope to get accurate readings.
“The automated electronic equipment is very simple to use and very reliable,” says Michael Weber, MD, Professor of Medicine at the SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn. “They’re so accurate that many clinical trials are now actually using the same blood pressure machines that you can buy from the drugstore.”
However, of these electronic devices, Weber and Sheps urge you to get a device that measures your blood pressure with a cuff around the arm. Don’t buy one that works on the wrist, and definitely avoid finger blood pressure monitors, since they are especially unreliable.
A good device costs between $40-$60, although models with additional features are pricier. Some offer a self-inflated cuff, which saves you the trouble of pumping it up yourself. Other devices have a memory of previous readings, and some even print a record each time you use it. Sheps observes that a company’s line of devices will often all use the same microchip, so a no-frills model is often as accurate as a more expensive one made by the same company.
And don’t forget to shop around. “The same device may cost twice as much at a medical supply store as it does at a chain store,” says Sheps.