High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack, and stroke.
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High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.
Monitoring Blood Pressure At Home
A study published in March 2013 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that people who monitored their blood pressure at home were more likely to reach their blood pressure goals than those who were monitored only by their doctor.
Because of this more physicians are recommending that their patients with high blood pressure regularly check their blood pressure at home. Doing so helps people to see where their blood pressure stands in between office visits. This, in turn, can motivate them to care more about their health. It also helps your physician to make medication adjustments to keep your blood pressure in the healthy zone. But home blood pressure monitors aren’t always as accurate as they should be.
Because many doctors do rely at least in part on home measurements to guide treatment, such inaccuracies could end with some people taking too much or too little blood pressure medication. Physicians are going down that road of asking people to measure their pressures at home. They want to empower patients, but also want to make sure the measurements are accurate.
The American Heart Association (AHA) also recommends that anyone with high blood pressure should monitor his or her blood pressure at home. Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure in a familiar setting, make certain your medication is working, and alert you and your doctor to potential health complications.
Why Should I Check My Blood Pressure At Home?
Monitoring your blood pressure at home can:
Help with early diagnosis. Self-monitoring can help your doctor diagnose high blood pressure earlier than if you have only occasional blood pressure readings in a medical office. Home monitoring is especially important if you have slightly elevated blood pressure (prehypertension) or another condition that could contribute to high blood pressure, such as diabetes or kidney problems.
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Help track your treatment. The only way to know whether your lifestyle changes or medications are working is to check your blood pressure regularly. Monitoring blood pressure changes at home can help you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment, such as adjusting dosages or changing medications.
Encourage better control. Self-monitoring can give you a stronger sense of responsibility for your health. You may feel even more motivated to control your blood pressure with an improved diet, physical activity, and proper medication use.
Cuts your health care costs. Self-monitoring might decrease your number of visits to your doctor or clinic.
Check if your blood pressure differs outside the doctor’s office. Some people experience spikes in blood pressure due to anxiety associated with seeing a doctor also called White Coat Hypertension. Other people have normal blood pressure at a clinic but elevated pressure elsewhere (masked hypertension). Monitoring blood pressure at home can help determine if you have true high blood pressure.
Not everyone can track blood pressure at home. If you have an irregular heartbeat, home blood pressure monitors might not give you an accurate reading.
Sit correctly: Sit with your back straight and supported on a dining chair, rather than a sofa. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface, such as a table with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the middle of the cuff is placed directly above the eye of the elbow. Check your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or have your health care provider show you how.
Measure at the same time every day: It’s important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening, or as your healthcare professional recommends.
Take multiple readings and record the results: Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results using a printable or online tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
What is the best Blood Pressure Monitor for me?
Pharmacies and online merchants, such as Amazon, sell a variety of blood pressure monitors. Monitors typically range in price from $23 to $100, although a higher price doesn’t necessarily correlate to better quality. Ask your health insurance company whether it will cover part or all of the cost.
When shopping for your best blood pressure monitor, look for these features:
Buy a monitor that goes around your upper arm. Wrist or finger monitors aren’t as accurate.
An automatic monitor is easiest to use because it doesn’t require a stethoscope and the cuff inflates by itself. Manual monitors require you to squeeze a bulb to inflate the cuff, which can be hard to do if you have arthritis.
Make sure the cuff fits your arm. If it’s too large or too small, the reading won’t be accurate.
As you can see from the article there are many advantages to measuring your blood pressure at home. It easy to do, and the best blood pressure monitor cost in recent years has become more affordable. With all the great reasons to start doing this, isn’t it time you took control of your high blood pressure?
Do you have an idea for an upcoming article? We would love to hear from you. Contact me Eli at [email protected]
Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda Eli is a licensed Registered Nurse with 17 years experience. Eli graduated with a major in nursing and a minor in psychology. His postgraduate training was in trauma, oncology, and cardiology.
With a passion for health advocacy Eli researches and writes many articles concerning improving the lives of people diagnosed with high blood pressure and the complication they experience. He believes educating people is the best way to improve their overall health.
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