Blood Pressure Readings
Staying on top of your health is crucial in catching diseases at the earliest possible time. Individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure, for instance, need to monitor their blood pressure to stay on top of major complications like heart disease.
Your monthly checks at the doctor’s office may simply not be enough to closely monitor your condition. The American Heart Association suggests home monitoring for people with hypertension not only for personal awareness but also to help their healthcare provider find out whether treatments have been effective.
Good thing blood pressure monitoring is easy, even when you’re at home and by yourself. You simply need to ensure that you are doing it correctly, as bad practices can result to inaccurate blood pressure readings.
Here are a few tips on how you can accurately measure your blood pressure at home:
Purchase a blood pressure monitor:
Today, the market is full of blood pressure monitors that are easy-to-use and provide accurate results. Dr. Randall Zusman, Division of Hypertension director at Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests buying a monitor with a NIBP cuff that can fit snuggly around the upper arm. Although there are wrist or finger monitors available, they might not be as accurate as the arm types.
Automatic monitors are the most convenient to use since they don’t require a stethoscope and their NIBP cuffs inflate by themselves to spare you the hassle of doing it by yourself.
See your doctor for tips on accurate use.
To help you determine your new device’s accuracy, take the blood pressure monitor with you to your doctor and have him or her check its accuracy. He or she may be able to check its parts, including the NIBP hose, connectors, and cuff, to see if they are working well. Your doctor may also compare the results to the office model for better assessment. In your end, it might help to have your doctor watch you as you perform the monitoring by yourself to see if you are doing the right thing.
Avoid factors that affect the blood pressure:
Before checking your blood pressure at home, do take note that aside from the equipment used, there are other factors that can cause your blood pressure to rise temporarily, resulting to false readings. For instance, blood pressure levels normally go up due to stress, smoking, exercise, cold temperatures, and intake of caffeine or certain medicines.
To avoid obtaining inaccurate blood pressure readings, try to steer clear from these factors prior to self-monitoring. It is advised to do your measurements the same time each day, though your doctor may also suggest for you to monitor during other times of the day for comparison.
Monitor in the proper position:
Your position when taking a blood pressure reading can significantly affect the results. In order to obtain accurate readings, make sure to sit on a stable chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Make sure your legs are not crossed to allow blood to flow freely. Next, lay your arm on a flat surface, with the upper arm at heart level. Once in the proper position, wrap the monitor’s cuff around the upper arm, making sure that the middle of the NIBP cuff is directly above the eye of the elbow.
Know your numbers:
Of course, it is important to know the normal blood pressure levels in order to effectively monitor your condition. The normal levels fall under 120/80 mmHg, so a reading of 140/90 mmHg and up is common in people with high blood pressure. If you are keeping your blood pressure under control through medications and proper diet and exercise, and you get a single high reading, it may not be an immediate cause for alarm. Take your blood pressure a few more times and check for any signs that you may not be doing it properly.
However, if you get an unexpected reading of 180/110 mmHg and higher even after a couple of readings, you may be undergoing a hypertensive crisis, which requires emergency medical attention. Call 911 immediately, especially if you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, and vision changes.
It’s not enough to simply be religious when it comes to visiting your doctor. It also helps to take part and take control of your condition, even with just the simple act of self-monitoring your blood pressure at home.
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