When Should You Check Your Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure changes throughout the day. Generally, it will be lowest when you first wake up and will get higher as you do daily activities.
Since your blood pressure changes throughout the day, its a good idea to take it at least twice. Taking your blood pressure multiple times throughout the day ensures youre getting an accurate reading.
The Shoulds Of Properly Taking Your High Blood Pressure Drugs
Why is it so important to take your high blood pressure drugs properly? It’s not just to make your doctor happy or to make your life more complicated. Taking high blood pressure medicine properly provides you the best results, lowering your blood pressure to a healthier level. You should take high blood pressure medicine properly because:
- That’s how your doctor can tell whether the medicine is working to lower your blood pressure.
- Taking medicine at the wrong doses or times or stopping high blood pressure medicine suddenly can be downright dangerous to your health.
- If your blood pressure remains too high, you’re more likely to develop other serious problems such as heart attacks, stroke, or kidney disease.
The good news is that taking high blood pressure medicine properly helps ensure better health for yourself now and in the future.
How To Check Your Blood Pressure Manually
To manually take your blood pressure, youll need a blood pressure cuff with a squeezable balloon and an aneroid monitor, also known as a sphygmomanometer, and a stethoscope. An aneroid monitor is a number dial. If possible, enlist the help of a friend or family member, because it can be difficult to use this method on your own.
Here are the steps to taking your blood pressure at home:
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Will My Reading Be As Accurate As At The Doctors Office
Many home blood pressure monitors are just as accurate as the doctors office. In fact, many doctors have started using automated BP devices in their offices because they eliminate the human error of manual methods.
But before you strap that cuff on, there are a few things to pay attention to first:
Use a clinically validated blood pressure monitor
This is more than just receiving clearance from the Health Canada, which is required for all blood pressure monitors sold in the Canada.
Clinical validation is an independent study that verifies the accuracy of the device using standardized medical protocols, and these studies are then published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
You can view our clinical validations here.
Use the right size cuff
If the cuff you use is too small, your blood pressure reading will be artificially high. If your cuff is too large, you may get a lower-than-actual reading.
To determine the right cuff size for you, with your arm hanging at the side of your body, measure the circumference of your upper arm at the midpoint between shoulder and elbow.
Understand what can impact your measurements
While it might seem obvious that if you just went on a run or had an argument, you blood pressure might be a little high. But there are many other factors that can cause variations in your measurements, including the time of day, climate, altitude, and even the season.
Follow These 5 Steps When Checking Your Blood Pressure:
Its also recommended to try to check your pressures at around the same time each day.
Download your personal blood pressure log here.
Record all numbers in a blood pressure log so you can show them to your doctor. Make sure to include in the log anything that may have interfered with the reading, like if youre feeling stressed or anxious, recently drank caffeine or if you just exercised.
Many blood pressure monitors will also include a measurement of your heart rate which you should also record for your doctor.
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How Can I Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctors office or hospitalusually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.
Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they dont use SMBP.3
Use these additional tips for SMBP:4
- Use a blood pressure log pdf icon to record your blood pressure measurements.
- Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
- Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.
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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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.
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
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Keep Your Doctor Informed
Your doctor doesn’t know everything about your life and your activities. But the more your doctor knows about you, the better they can help. Make sure your doctor knows about these things:
- Other drugs you take, either prescription or over the counter
- Vitamins or other supplements you take
- Herbs you might use
- Alcohol and any recreational drugs you use, or have used
- Other health problems, especially conditions such as diabetes
Other factors in your life that could contribute to high blood pressure, such as difficult family issues, a high-stress job, or a sedentary lifestyle
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.
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Tips For Taking Your Blood Pressure At Home
Its not uncommon for patients to have normal blood pressure readings at home but high blood pressure readings at their doctor appointments. This can be very frustrating for hypertensive patients, especially those who are diligent about keeping their high blood pressure under control.
Patients often are nervous about what their blood pressure will be when its measured at their doctors office, and that anxiety causes their blood pressure to go up. Its known as white coat hypertension, and its particularly common among elderly patients.
For that reason, I encourage my patients who take hypertension medication to monitor their blood pressure numbers at home.
How Often Should You Measure Your Blood Pressure
When and how often you take your readings will depend on your blood pressure. Speak to your doctor or nurse about whats suitable for you.
It can be useful to monitor your blood pressure closely to begin with, then less often but at regular intervals.
When you first start using your home monitor
When you first start using a home monitor, measure your blood pressure in the morning and evening, every day for a week.
Take three readings in the morning, one to two minutes apart, and the same again in the evening, and record all the readings. Take an average of the readings, but discard the first one if its much higher than the others. To take an average simply add the two readings together and divide by two. Divide by three if you use all three readings.
Ignore the first days readings altogether, because they might not be accurate as youre not familiar with your monitor yet.
At the end of the week you will have a useful picture of what your blood pressure is normally like.
Your doctor might ask you to keep a record like this when they first think you might have high blood pressure and would like to know more before making a .
After the first week
Once you have a record of your blood pressure over a week, you can take readings less often once every one to two weeks perhaps. Your doctor or nurse can talk to you about this, theres no need to measure it too often.
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S On How To Take A Blood Pressure Manually
1. Perform hand hygiene and gather supplies
- Supplies needed: stethoscope and blood pressure cuff with a sphygmomanometer
- Tip: always use the right size cuff
2. Have the patient sitting or lying down with the arm at heart level. Turn the arm outward with the palm up. Be sure the legs are uncrossed.
- Find the brachial artery:
- This is the most common site for checking the blood pressure and is a major artery in the upper arm that divides into the radial and ulnar artery.
- To find this artery, extend the arm and have the palm facing upward. The pulse point is found near the top of the cubital fossa, which is a triangular area that is in front of the elbow.
3. Place and secure the blood pressure cuff on the patients upper arm. Place it about 2 inches above the elbow. In addition, make sure the arrow on the blood pressure cuff is lined up with the brachial artery. Dont place the blood pressure cuff over clothes or the gown.
4. First, we will estimate the systolic pressure by palpating the brachial artery and inflating the cuff to the point where the pulse disappears. Note that number on the gauge when you no longer feel the brachial artery. Then deflate the cuff and wait 30 to 60 seconds.
5. Place your stethoscope in your ears, palpate the brachial artery again, and place the bell of the stethoscope lightly on the brachial pulse site .
7. Deflate the cuff slowly with the valve .
10. Open the valve completely and let the air leave.
11. Remove the cuff.
Tips For Checking Your Own Blood Pressure
There are certain factors that can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. For example, blood pressure normally rises as a result of:
- Certain medicines
Try to avoid as many of these factors as you can when taking your blood pressure. Also, try to measure your blood pressure at about the same time each day. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times during the day to see if it fluctuates.
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Follow The Other Parts Of Your High Blood Pressure Treatment Plan
When it comes to treating high blood pressure, it’s likely that you and your doctor have talked about steps in addition to taking medication. These steps can help make your medicine work even better to control blood pressure. Here are some of the other steps that might be part of your plan:
- Eat a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat meat and dairy foods.
- Watch how much sodium you eat in your diet. Most of the sodium you eat comes from packaged or processed foods.
- Watch how much alcohol you drink. Ask your doctor about an appropriate amount.
- Don’t use cigarettes or other tobacco products.
- Get as close as you can to a healthy weight. Your doctor can help you determine an appropriate goal.
- Get regular physical activity. Try for 150 minutes of moderate activity a week.
- Learn ways to relieve stress, such as relaxation techniques.
For each of these steps, your doctor can give you more information and get you started. Or your doctor may refer you to other health professionals who can help. Some health centers even offer free or inexpensive classes in these areas.
Automated Blood Pressure Machines
The easiest and most accurate way to measure the blood pressure at home is to buy an automated blood pressure monitor with an upper arm cuff.
The instructions for use may vary with each machine, and a person should follow them carefully to ensure proper operation. If the instructions are difficult to understand, a local pharmacy or doctors office will be able to show a person how to operate the machine correctly.
Doctors may ask a person to bring their at-home machine to the office during their next visit to test the accuracy compared to the doctors reading.
Using a high-quality machine is important, as inaccurate readings may cause unnecessary or harmful changes in medications or treatments.
A variety of blood pressure monitors are available for purchase online and in most drug stores. A person may wish to speak to a doctor about which brand they recommend.
There are apps and wrist devices that claim to measure the blood pressure, but these results are frequently inaccurate and are not a reliable way to monitor a persons health.
Apps that log blood pressure results may be helpful for people who need to take regular blood pressure tests, however.
Recording a set of readings into these apps may help doctors identify trends in blood pressure and recommend treatments.
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How To Correctly Use A Blood Pressure Cuff
A blood pressure cuff is a medical device that is used to measure a persons blood pressure. It works by applying pressure to the arteries in the arm and provides medical professionals with an indication of a persons blood pressure and heart health.
In this guide to correctly using a blood pressure cuff, we will introduce the simple steps required to correctly fit a blood pressure cuff and take your blood pressure reading.
If you are seeking to measure your blood pressure at home without the assistance of a medical professional, this guide can help you obtain the most accurate reading.
In addition, there is no need to worry about complicated readings as blood pressure machines are designed to be simple to use in both clinical and home settings.