High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is defined as a reading of 140/90 and above. It is strongly recommended by healthcare professionals and organizations that people suffering with the disease should make monitoring their blood pressure at home a daily routine. Keeping track of your readings give your doctor an added resource for determining if/how your medication is working and how much your pressure changes during the day. It also allows you to play a role in the managing of your illness while making you more aware of potential problems due to sudden changes. The American Heart Association strongly suggests that “monitoring blood pressure at home can be an effective way of tracking and treating hypertension”. Daily monitoring at home, rather than a few times per year by your health care professional, will certainly provide a much clearer picture of your illness, resulting in more effective treatment.
Choosing A Monitor
Blood pressure machines are readily available since a prescription is not required for their purchase. There are a variety of brands and features which make choosing the right one rather challenging. The first step would be to consult your doctor as to his/her recommendations. You can also do your own research using the internet or other available public health mediums to gather information as to which machines offer the highest level of accuracy and convenience of use. All monitors consist of the same basic components: an inflatable cuff/strap and a gauge for readouts. Some monitors have a stethoscope depending on the model. Your personal considerations should be: cuff size, display and stethoscope.
- An ill-fitting cuff will not give accurate readings so it’s very important that you use a cuff which makes good skin contact.
- The display should be clear and easy to read, particularly if you have visual problems.
- A blood pressure monitor which uses a stethoscope would require a small amount of training as to how it should be used correctly and how to interpret the sounds.
Regardless of your choice, once you’ve made the purchase, it is advisable that the machine be taken to your doctor to compare readings between your monitor and his/hers and if necessary have it calibrated. This will provide you with the assurance that your monitor is accurate and reliable.
Taking Your Blood Pressure
Once your monitor has been checked for accuracy you’re now ready to begin. To ensure the most accurate readings there are certain guidelines which one must follow:
- Empty your bladder before starting. An extended bladder can affect the reading.
- You must not drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, use alcohol or exercise for 30 minutes before taking the reading. Sit quietly for three to five minutes beforehand
- Sit with your arm supported at heart level, legs uncrossed and back straight.
- Place the cuff snuggly around the upper part of your bare arm (at least 1” above your elbow), leaving just enough room to slip one fingertip under the cuff.
- For manual inflation, pump the air button then press the button for reading.
- Stay silent during the process.
- Record the reading, if your monitor does not have memory capabilities and take a second reading 2 to 3 minutes later.
Guarding Against Inaccurate Readings
- Keep the monitor away from cellular phones during testing.
- Do not inflate when not in use.
- Do not use the monitor aboard a plane or moving vehicle.
- Avoid causing strong shocks or vibrations to the unit.
- Do not bend cuff when storing.
- Replace dead batteries on time, do not leave in machine.
Keeping an accurate record of your blood pressure readings is essential to managing or curing the disease. It is therefore absolutely necessary that your machine be reliable, that you take a precise reading and keep accurate records. Inaccurate readings can lead to misdiagnoses and by extension to life threatening complications. Be familiar with readings which are causes for concern and if in doubt, consult your doctor, health-care provider or emergency services.
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The contents of this site are for informational purposes only. Consultation with your doctor or other healthcare provider should ALWAYS take precedence. For questions related to your particular situation please seek the advice of your healthcare professional, There is no substitute for sound, professional, medical advice.
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