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.
How Does My Circadian Rhythm Affect My Blood Pressure Medication
Michael Smolensky, adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas, Ausin, reports, â”The body doesn’t respond to medications in the same way at different times of the day. Some drugs are not as effective or as well tolerated if they’re taken at the wrong biological time. It’s not that they’re not effective at all, but they’re certainly much less effective.”Studies on chronotherapy have found that taking high blood pressure medications before bedtime help with the non-dipping issue. This reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke by normalizing your daily blood pressure rhythm. Specifically, it has been reported that drugs called ACE inhibitors and ARBs are the most effective when taken at bedtime.
You And Your Medicines
Important information about your medicines:
- Know the name of each medicine you take.
- Carry a list of medicines with you.
- Know how and when to take each medicine.
- Know what side effects to report to your doctor or nurse.
- Tell your doctor or nurse about all of the vitamins, herbs, supplements and pills you take.
- Never stop taking a medicine without calling your doctor or nurse.
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How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Body
- Your Brain – High blood pressure hurts the arteries leading to the brain and increases your risk for stroke .
- Your Heart and Blood Vessels – High blood pressure hurts your heart and blood vessels and increases your risk for heart attack.
- Your Kidneys – High blood pressure hurts your kidneys and increases your risk for kidney failure.
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.
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What Is The Cause
When we first wake up, blood pressure rises because of the normal circadian rhythm of the body. This is a twenty-four hour cycle which affects our patterns of sleeping and waking. The body releases hormones in the morning, such as noradrenaline and adrenaline. These are what gives you a boost of energy, and they can also raise your blood pressure. The increase of your blood pressure in the morning can usually be seen between six and noon. If it goes too high, this can create effects that are harmful.
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/6a Doctor Or Home Reading
If you plan to visit a doctor for your blood pressure reading, then you might be asked to come at different times of the day to get a correct reading. Taking multiple readings helps to evaluate the situation in a better way. Most people now prefer to take the reading at home. It is easy and can be done at any time of the day. Some people even believe that visiting the hospital generally makes them nervous, which is reflected in our blood pressure. So the decision is entirely yours.
Factors That Can Affect Your Readings
There are a few general rules to be aware of when it comes to timing your blood pressure reading.
For example, its not a good idea to take your blood pressure immediately after you wake up, as this will give your lowest reading. Instead, aim to check it when youve been up for about half an hour.
Its also best not to wait until after breakfast and your morning coffee since both food and caffeine can raise your blood pressure. Ideally, a morning blood pressure can be taken after you brush your teeth, shower, and get dressed but before you eat or leave for work.
Food and caffeine arent the only things that can cause your blood pressure to spike. There are several other everyday things that can make your blood pressure rise.
No matter what time of day you take your blood pressure, its best to avoid these things for at least half an hour before you take a reading:
- smoking or using tobacco
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Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Surprisingly, home blood pressure monitoring is as accurate as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring further, home monitoring has the same predictive value as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. In other words, home blood pressure measurements are better than the blood pressure measurements your doctor gets in the office.
There are three caveats the home blood pressure monitoring is done with a validated monitor, right size arm cuff, and correct technique.Dr. Joe recognized that ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is the best blood pressure monitoring at home. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is not widely available, but home blood pressure monitoring has a similar predictive value. Home blood pressure monitoring is more widely available and more affordable.
How To Take & Record Blood Pressure
- Wait for at least 30 minutes after drinking alcohol or caffeine, smoking or exercise before you take a reading.
- Rest for at least 5 minutes before you take a reading.
- Sit with your legs uncrossed, your back supported and your feet on the floor.
- Rest your arm at heart level on a table.
- Measure your blood pressure in both arms the first time you use a monitor.
- Use the arm with the highest reading to take future readings.
- Take your blood pressure twice a day for 7 days. Take 2-3 readings in the morning before taking your medicines, and in the evening. Each reading should be 2 minutes apart.
- Use a log to record your readings or print the numbers stored in your monitor.
- Always take your log or bring your monitor with stored readings to show your doctor or nurse.
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Average Blood Pressure By Age
As you get older, your blood vessels tend to become stiffer and plaque can build up in them, which can raise your blood pressure. If your blood pressure becomes too high, you’re at a greater risk for heart disease, strokes, and more.
In 2015, the average blood pressure worldwide was 127/79 mm Hg in men, and 122/77 mm Hg in women, according to a study analysis published in Lancet.
When researchers for the National Center for Health Statistics looked at average blood pressure in U.S. adults between 2001 and 2008, the average reading was 122/71 mm Hg. The breakout was 124/72 mm Hg for men, and 121/70 mm Hg in women. It rose by age and was significantly higher in Black people.
The researchers found the following breakdown by age, sex, and race or ethnicity:
|Blood Pressure by Age|
As the population ages and life expectancy increases, high blood pressure is becoming more common.
Common Blood Pressure Measurement
The main reason most people go to the doctor is to get their blood pressure measured. For years we have known the limitation of blood pressure monitored in the doctors office. Yet, most of the hypertension research, blood pressure diagnoses, and hypertension management has been based on office blood pressure.
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When To Call Your Healthcare Provider
A hypertensive crisisdefined as blood pressure above 180/120 mm Hgrequires immediate medical attention. Call 911 if you are also experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, back pain, shortness of breath, difficulty speaking, a change in vision, weakness, or numbness.
Best Time Of Day To Take Blood Pressure
The best time to take your blood pressure is the time of day you can do so most consistently.
Checking at roughly the same time every day will allow you to see a trend over timeso that time can be the morning, afternoon, or evening, so long as its fairly consistent over time.
Most providers suggest checking your blood pressure two or three times a week, but they may have you check more frequently if you are experiencing specific symptoms, have had recent medication changes, or need closer monitoring.
Remember: Your number does vary quite a lot throughout the day, so if you get an unusual number for you, you may want to recheck it at a later time.
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Choosing A Blood Pressure Monitor
If you’re planning to take your blood pressure at home, it’s important to have a reliable blood pressure monitor. The AHA recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor, but there are other options.
When selecting a blood pressure monitor, consider the following:
- Fit: To ensure a proper fit, measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
- Number of people: If more than one person will be using the monitor, make sure to choose one that fits everyone.
- Features: Some blood pressure monitors offer extra tech features, like Bluetooth and app connectivity. If you don’t think you’ll benefit from these extras, go ahead and choose one that is efficient, easy to use, and more affordable.
- Budget: High-quality blood pressure monitors vary dramatically in price, from around $25 to well over $100. Keep in mind that a good monitor is a great investment and that you will be using it daily for several years.
- Other considerations: The AHA notes that when selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant person, or child, you should make sure it is validated for these conditions.
If you need help selecting an at-home device, check out these blood pressure monitors, which were vetted by the Verywell team based on the above criteria.
When To See A Doctor
If you have concerns about your blood pressure or are experiencing symptoms that you believe might be related to hypertension or hypotension, contact your doctor or primary care provider.
If you have high blood pressure, you must remain under the care of a healthcare provider.
They can monitor your readings and recommend lifestyle changes and medications to help you regain control of your health and avoid serious health complications.
If you have high blood pressure and are experiencing chest pain, back pain, numbness, weakness, difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, or vision changes, you may require emergency medical care. Call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital immediately.
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How To Take Your Blood Pressure At Home
What you do beforehand can affect your blood pressure readings. Your blood pressure may be high due to:
- Certain medications like decongestants and anti-inflammatories.
You can manually check your blood pressure at home or use an automated blood pressure machine that calculates your reading for you.
An automated blood pressure machine may be ideal for most since it only requires one person to use it, provides accurate readings and is easy to use. You can find affordable blood pressure machines online and at most grocery stores or local pharmacies.
To take your blood pressure manually, youll need a blood pressure cuff with a squeezable balloon and a stethoscope.
Whatever method you use, before you take your blood pressure find a quiet place and sit still for about 5 minutes.
Make sure you havent exercised or had caffeine or any kind of stimulant for about half an hour prior to checking your blood pressure, says Dr. Distel.
Sit at a table with both of your feet on the ground, legs uncrossed. Sit in a chair with back support so that you can lean back and relax. Place your arms up on the table so theyre at chest height.
Check that you have the right size cuff, too. You dont want one too big or too small. Then, roll up the sleeve on your left arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed.
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What Are The Categories Of Blood Pressure
Various categories of blood pressures include:
- Normal: Systolic blood pressure value is less than 120 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure value is less than 80 mmHg.
- Elevated: Systolic blood pressure value is 120 to 129 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure value is less than 80 mmHg.
- Hypertension stage I: Systolic blood pressure value is 130 to 139 mmHg, or diastolic blood pressure value is 80 to 89 mmHg.
- Hypertension stage II: Systolic blood pressure value is 140 mmHg or higher, or diastolic blood pressure value is 90 mmHg or higher.
- Hypertensive urgency: Systolic blood pressure value is higher than 180 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure value is higher than 120 mmHg.
- Hypertensive crisis: Hypertensive crisis is an emergency with blood pressure values the same as hypertensive urgency, but there is always a symptom of end-stage organ damage as well . You must seek immediate medical attention.
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Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is done when your doctor is unsure if your elevated blood pressure is hypertension. Your doctor places the monitor on your arm in the doctors office it will measure your blood pressure every 15-20 minutes for 24 hours. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is the best type of monitoring to diagnose and manage high blood pressure.
What Is The Correct Way To Measure Blood Pressure
Learn the correct way to have your blood pressure taken, whether youre getting it checked at the doctors office or checking it yourself at home. Use this checklist:
- Dont eat or drink anything 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure.
- Empty your bladder before your reading.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes before your reading.
- Put both feet flat on the ground and keep your legs uncrossed.
- Rest your arm with the cuff on a table at chest height.
- Make sure the blood pressure cuff is snug but not too tight. The cuff should be against your bare skin, not over clothing.
- Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured.
If you are keeping track of your blood pressure at home, use these additional tips.
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What Is The Best Time To Take Blood Pressure
Blood pressure fluctuates during the whole day. Typically, it is lowest right after waking up, and varies by up to 30% in the rest of the day. These variations are actually the results of the hormonal changes, variations of the activity levels, eating, etc. Thus, you’d better take blood pressure reading an hour after waking up, before breakfast or any morning exercise. If you want to take two BP readings daily, then take the second reading after an hour of the dinner. Your physician might suggest you to take the blood pressure at the same time on daily basis.
But, indeed, there isn’t a single best time to take blood pressure. And the decision of allocating a good time to check the blood pressure should comprise of the function of three things: the reason why you are checking your blood pressure, what your schedule is and which time is convenient for you.
While choosing a best time to take blood pressure, the time should be decided according to the feasibility in your schedule. Because the part of the day selected for the checkup should not be disturbed by any work or the other conflicts.
What Damage Can Occur
Hypertension is the silent killer because there are no symptoms of the damage to your blood vessles. Damage to the small blood vessles over time increases the level of low-level damage to your eyes in your eyes and the vessles in your kidneys.
Testing your urine for protein is essential to determine the extent of kidney damage. High blood pressure causes your heart muscle to get thicker, causing heart damage that can lead to a heart attack. Blood pressure needs to be aggressively reduced even at 130/30 or more.
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