Monitoring Your Blood Pressure At Home
Whether is it “white coat syndrome” or you have high blood pressure, you may be asked to check your blood pressure at home. Your healthcare provider may set parameters of when to call them based on the readings. Home monitoring is looking at trends as well as episodes of variances, so it is important for you to know when you should call the office, or when you should hold (not take) a specific medication due to the readings.
Monitoring of the blood pressure (BP) at home can be simple. Consumer Reports listed the Omron monitor as one of the top performers due to its accuracy and reliability. Many clinicians also prefer the blood pressure monitor that goes on the arm rather than the wrist because they are more accurate. Here are a few important tips to consider:
- Cuff size: too tight of a cuff results in a false high reading and too loose may result in a false low reading. Before purchasing a blood pressure monitor, measure the middle area of your upper arm so that you get the right size
- Some monitors have the capability of uploading reports using software that you can then print share with your healthcare provider
- Smartphones and apps can also be used to keep a record of your blood pressure readings
The blood pressure is measuring the force of the blood flow through the vessels. A home monitor does this by sensing the vibration of this action. When the heart beats (pumps), there is a surge of pressure, noted as the systolic. This is the top number in the reading when we write it down. When the heart rests between beats, the pressure decreases. This is known as the diastolic, or lower number. An easy way to remember this is d = diastolic = “down” or denominator.
The steps to taking the blood pressure are as follows:
Sit quietly for 5 minutes before measuring the BP.
*Avoid exercise, smoking or caffeine
The arm should rest on a tabletop or armrest at the heart level
Both feet should be on the floor and not crossed
Do not talk during the measurement
Place the monitor on the arm, and press the start button.
Record the date, time, blood pressure and pulse
If you get a reading higher than you expected, rest and re-check it in 5 minutes. There are many causes of this including exercising before the check, stress, caffeine, pain, and a full bladder to name a few.
Take your BP diary and BP machine to your follow up visit. This will be useful in determining the effectiveness of your treatment, and also give you the opportunity to check your BP monitor against readings done in the office.