Checking your blood pressure (BP) regularly at home is an important part of managing high blood pressure.
Home monitoring is key to ensuring normal BP numbers, knowing if your supplements are working and preventing future complications from hypertension.
Monitoring your BP at home regularly is necessary for anyone with high blood pressure (defined as Stage 1 Hypertension). High blood pressure is indicated by a systolic reading (top number) greater than 130 and a diastolic reading (bottom number) greater than 80.
Be sure to be seated on a supportive chair with your back straight to ensure a proper posture and therefore an accurate BP reading. Make sure your feet touch the floor and that your legs and ankles are not crossed. Lay your arm on a flat surface (i.e. a table) and ensure your upper arm is level with your heart.
The BP monitor cuff should be placed directly above the bend in your elbow. You can view your BP monitor instructions or ask a local doctor for how best to use the cuff and take your BP. Make sure you have a properly fitting cuff to ensure accurate BP measurements.
Try to avoid any caffeine, food or tobacco at least 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure. These factors can impact your blood pressure numbers.
If you have a full bladder prior to a reading, this could slightly increase your final BP numbers. Therefore, if you take your BP reading in the morning, then be sure that your bladder is emptied prior to testing.
Try to sit quietly at least five minutes before taking your reading. Ensure you’re seated comfortably with your legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the floor. Do not exercise at least 30 minutes prior to the reading. Try to release any stress you have and remain calm during the reading. Do not talk during the reading.
It is best to avoid taking the measurement over clothes. Wear short sleeves or a tank top to ensure the reading is able to be taken accurately. Don’t roll up a sleeve as this could cause it to tighten around your arm for a reading and the results will be inaccurate. If necessary, slip your arm out of the sleeve prior to taking your BP.
One blood pressure reading alone is like a snapshot and it doesn’t provide enough clinical information. Rather, we need a record over time to evaluate someone’s true blood pressure. This record provides a time-lapse glimpse of someone’s blood pressure and subsequently allows the patient and the doctor to then work together to discover the root cause of their high blood pressure and how best to treat it (naturally). Write down your blood pressure and corresponding heart rate each time. Keep it as your record and bring it to your doctor’s appointment.
It is important to take your blood pressure reading the same time each day, i.e. in the morning or in the evening. This ensures accuracy for analysis. Blood pressure varies throughout the day and can tend to be higher in the morning. You could keep a record of your BP at different times each day, however, in order to look for patterns of your blood pressure trajectory it is best to analyze these readings at the roughly the same time each day. Make note in your blood pressure journal of what time your BP reading is taken and what the reading was.
Find a reliable arm cuff home monitor. Make sure the blood pressure monitor is appropriate for the individual and their condition. Additionally, make sure the arm cuff is the right size. Measure around the upper arm and select a cuff that fits accordingly.
It should be noted that wrist monitors are less reliable and are therefore not recommended.
Once your BP is considered “well-controlled” then readings can be taken less frequently.
We have our patients keep a BP journal so that we can track their BP numbers in order to reduce their medication and the frequency with which they take their blood pressure.
Home-monitoring of BP allows the patient and the physician to look for a controlled BP over time.
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