Home Blood Pressure Testing
Blood pressure tests can also be carried out at home using your own blood pressure monitor.
Like 24-hour or ambulatory monitoring, this can give a better reflection of your blood pressure.
It can also allow you to monitor your condition more easily in the long term.
You can buy a variety of low-cost monitors so you can test your blood pressure at home or while you’re out and about.
Measure your blood pressure twice a day, ideally in the morning and the evening, while you’re sitting down.
Each time take 2 readings, 1 minute apart. Continue to measure your blood pressure twice a day for 7 days.
Your doctor or nurse will use this information to work out your average blood pressure.
It’s important to make sure you use equipment that’s been properly tested.
The British Hypertension Society has information about validated blood pressure monitors that are available to buy.
Is My Blood Pressure Too Low
Most doctors agree that a healthy blood pressure is anything under 120/80 mmHg. But how low is too low for blood pressure? Hypotension can occur when blood pressure drops below 90/60 mmHg.
This isnt a hard and fast rule, though. Since factors, like age, weight, and level of physical activity contribute to blood pressure, your doctor may not diagnose you with hypotension even if your blood pressure is a little low.
Low blood pressure typically becomes an issue only if youre experiencing symptoms, such as:
- Over-the-counter cold medicines
What Does It Mean To Have High Blood Pressure
While high blood pressure may be common affecting nearly 1 out of every 3 U.S. adults its often misunderstood or overlooked. With a lack of noticeable signs and symptoms, high blood pressure may not feel like a serious health threat. But overtime, this condition can damage your heart and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
There is a bit of good news, though. High blood pressure is not only easy to diagnose and treat, but its also preventable. This starts with understanding what blood pressure is and the role it plays in cardiovascular health.
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Eat Less Meat More Plants
A plant-based diet is an easy way to increase fiber and reduce the amount of sodium and unhealthy saturated and trans fat you take in from dairy foods and meat. Increase the number of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains youre eating. Instead of red meat, opt for healthier lean proteins like fish, poultry, or tofu.
A Final Caution: Stroke Symptoms
Since high blood pressure can lead to a stroke, make sure that your family members and caregivers also know the signs of stroke. They should take immediate action if you suddenly experience:
- Numbness or weakness on one side of the face or body
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Trouble walking, or lack of balance or coordination
- Severe headache
- Stay aware and seek high blood pressure treatment
Some people may have a tendency to ignore or deny hypertension symptoms because they dont want to go to the doctor or the emergency room, they dont want to admit the possibility of being ill, or they dont understand the seriousness.A key part of healthy aging is communicating health concerns to your doctor or nurse. That includes getting immediate attention to and treatment for potential symptoms of a high blood pressure crisis.Dont disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it, because of what you read here. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation, diagnosis or treatment it is provided as is without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have specific questions about any medical matter, and seek professional attention immediately if you think you or someone in your care may be suffering from a health condition.
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Tips For Taking Blood Pressure Medication
Untreated high blood pressure can increase your risk of serious health problems. If your doctor prescribes medication to lower your blood pressure, remember:
- If you take blood pressure medication and your blood pressure goes down, it means medication and lifestyle changes are working. If another doctor asks if you have high blood pressure, the answer is, “Yes, but it is being treated.”
- Healthy lifestyle changes may help lower the dosage you need.
- Get up slowly from a seated or lying position and stand for a bit before walking. This lets your blood pressure adjust before walking to prevent lightheadedness and falls.
- Tell your doctor about all the drugs you take. Don’t forget to mention over-the-counter drugs, including vitamins and supplements. They may affect your blood pressure. They also can change how well your blood pressure medication works.
- Blood pressure medication should be taken at the same time each day as part of your daily routine. For example, take it in the morning with breakfast or in the evening before brushing your teeth. If you miss a dose, do not double the dose the next day.
- Remember to refill your medication before you run out and bring it with you when traveling. Its important to keep taking your medication unless your doctor tells you to stop.
- Before having surgery, ask your doctor if you should take your blood pressure medication on the day of your operation.
What Blood Pressure Is Too High
There are different categories for normal, elevated, and high blood pressure, according to 2017 guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
Normal: systolic below 120 and diastolic below 80
Elevated: systolic 120129 and diastolic below 80
High : systolic above 130 and diastolic above 80
You have high blood pressure if one or both numbers in your blood pressure reading are high.
The category of hypertension is further divided into stages:
Stage 1: systolic 130139 and diastolic 8089
Stage 2: systolic at or above 140 and diastolic at or above 90
These stages are used to make decisions about how to treat high blood pressure. For example, if your blood pressure is in stage 1, you may not need to treat it with medications right away.
A blood pressure with a systolic reading at or above 180 or a diastolic reading at or above 120 is very elevated. This is called hypertensive crisis. Even when your blood pressure is this high, you may not have any symptoms. Without symptoms, this is also referred to as hypertensive urgency.
In some cases, blood pressure this high can damage other organs in the body, which causes symptoms. This is called hypertensive emergency, and some of the complications can be life-threatening. Affected organs can include the:
Depending on which organ is involved, you can have different symptoms. For example, if the heart is affected, you may have chest pain. Other symptoms to look for include:
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How Does High Blood Pressure Cause Headaches
Pain levels depend on how high someones blood pressure is. Hypertension headaches may range from mild to severe and are regulated by how much blood is reaching the brain. During times of high blood pressure, blood vessels running through the tissue under the skull constrict or tighten, leading to headache development.
It is also possible for blood pressure medication to cause headaches. Checking blood pressure during headaches can be a good indicator of whether it is caused by abnormal blood pressure levels.
Some medical professionals believe that having a headache due to high blood pressure is a sign of a hypertensive crisis, which is when blood pressure spikes to critical levels.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
The best way to lower blood pressure begins with changes you can make to your lifestyle to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your blood pressure. These are called antihypertensive medicines.
The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure to normal levels. Your doctor may prescribe medicine thats easy to take and has few, if any, side effects. This treatment is highly successful. If your blood pressure can only be controlled with medicine, youll need to take the medicine for the rest of your life. It is common to need more than one medicine to help control your blood pressure. Dont stop taking the medicine without talking with your doctor. Otherwise, you may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
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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.
Can You Check Your Blood Pressure At Home
It is possible to buy a blood pressure machine and test it yourself at home but experts warns this can be tricky.
Those who want to check their blood pressure at home will most likely be people who need to look at it often, because they know it is very high, for example.
Ms Giblin says: As I said, the most important thing is to know your numbers. So find out what your blood pressure is.
If its higher than 140 over 90, then we will recommend you do a series of blood pressure tests yourself at home, or speak to your GP if you are not comfortable, comfortable and confident to do it yourself.
We recommend you use a blood pressure machine for the arm and find a cuff that fits your arm because an oversized cuff will give you a lower reading, whereas a cuff thats too tight will make your reading higher than it may actually be.
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Foods For High Blood Pressure
If you are eating a whole foods plant-based diet and are still struggling with high blood pressure, there are certain foods you can incorporate into your diet.
A few tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day has been shown to greatly reduce blood pressure. In this study, flaxseed was found to be 2 to 3 times more powerful than an exercise program.
Hibiscus tea also seems to be effective at reducing blood pressure. Although, more research is needed.
What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of your blood as it pushes against artery walls. This force moves blood throughout your body. Every time you visit a doctor, you get a blood pressure reading to make sure your blood pressure numbers arent too high or too low. If they get above a certain level, heart and blood problems can arise.
A typical blood pressure reading involves a top number and a bottom number. The top number refers to systolic blood pressure, or the measure of blood pressure when your heart contracts. The bottom number refers to diastolic blood pressure, or the measure of blood pressure when your heart expands.
But how do you know if your blood pressure is too high? Learn about the signs and symptoms and ways to treat high blood pressure if you have it.
Fatigue Or Lingering Tiredness
Since high BP increases the amount of work that your heart needs, it makes your heart grow bigger to handle the work and will demand more oxygen-rich blood. As a result, you feel weak, there will be lingering tiredness or fatigue, and you will not be able to perform physical activities or exercise. It may lead to heart failure if left untreated.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a risk factor for having high blood pressure, and your risk increases further if you are obese.
There are two ways to check if you are overweight:
- Body Mass Index – This is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in metres squared. In the UK, people with a BMI of between 25 to 30 are overweight, and those with an index above 30 are classed as obese. People with a BMI of 40 or more are morbidly obese.
- Waist size – Using a measuring tape place the tape round your waist between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone. The table below indicates how much your health might be at risk, your ethnicity should also be taken into account.
|Over 80 cm|
The best way to tackle obesity is by reducing the amount of calories that you eat, and taking regular exercise. Your GP can provide you with further information and advice on how you can do this.
More about having a healthy weight
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Signs Of High Blood Pressure
Many adults have high blood pressure, but they arent aware of it. Thats why medical experts call hypertension a silent condition. The only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to measure it regularly. You can do this at home or during a visit to your doctors office.
Although not directly caused by hypertension, there are a few symptoms that can indirectly result from high blood pressure numbers. These include:
Blood spots in the eyes
Having red spots in your eyes is most commonly seen in individuals with high blood pressure or diabetes. Diabetes and high blood pressure do not cause blood spots, however. An ophthalmologist can best determine if untreated hypertension is causing optic nerve damage, leading to blood spots in the eyes.
Lots of internal and external factors can cause facial flushing, like eating spicy foods, drinking hot drinks, wind, stress, hormone fluctuation, and skincare products. Your face can flush when you have higher than normal blood pressure, but hypertension isnt causing facial flushing.
Early warning signs of a stroke include sudden onset of dizziness, loss of balance, and trouble walking. High blood pressure is the top risk factor for stroke, so its possible for high blood pressure and dizziness to be related. Dizziness is also a common side effect of some blood pressure medications.
Root Causes And Risk Factors
Knowing what triggers high blood pressure can help you prevent or reverse it. Like with most other chronic diseases, the reason someone develops HBP has to do with several factors.
HBP seems to run in families, but its also highly dependent upon the type of lifestyle someone leads. Women are at an increased risk when taking control pills, during pregnancy, or if taking hormone therapy medications to control menopause symptoms. Obesity or being overweight increases the odds because this puts more pressure on the heart and arteries.
Men and women are equally likely to develop HBP during their lifetimes, but interestingly men are more likely when theyre younger. Before turning 45, men are more likely to have HBP than women but then this flips after age 65, when womens risk becomes higher than mens. When children younger than 10 years old have HBP its usually a side effect of another condition. This can include a kidney problem, medication use or type 1 diabetes.
High blood pressure has a real laundry list of risk factors. The good news is that the majority of these hypertension risk factors are well within your control. They include:
High blood pressure is most prevalent in the adult population, but children are also at risk. Sometimes children can experience high blood pressure symptoms that are caused by problems with the heart or kidneys.
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Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Genetics and age both contribute to your likelihood of having high blood pressure. If anyone in your family has a history of high blood pressure, you might face a higher risk of having high blood pressure. Middle-aged and older adults face a higher risk too.
Other risk factors for high blood pressure include:
Tests For High Blood Pressure
When you have a doctors appointment, a nurse, medical assistant, or doctor typically checks your blood pressure. They routinely check blood pressure because there arent symptoms of high blood pressure. The only way to catch it is to test it.
A blood pressure machine, officially called a sphygmomanometer, is used to test for high blood pressure. The blood pressure cuff fits around your arm. Doctors or nurses might use a manual blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope to measure your blood pressure. At home, you can use an electronic blood pressure monitor. It only takes a minute or so to do the test.
When measuring blood pressure, youll observe two numbers:
- Systolic: top number indicating pressure inside the artery when the heart is contracting
- Diastolic: bottom number indicating the pressure of blood inside the arteries when the heart is filling
You have high blood pressure if you have a systolic reading of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic reading of 90 mm Hg or higher. In this case, the nurse or doctor might wait a few minutes and check your blood pressure again. If its still high, you might be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home.
High blood pressure can be a sign of another medical condition. Untreated high blood pressure can cause organ damage. To assess your health properly, a doctor might also order a urine test, blood tests, or an electrocardiogram to check your heart health.
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