- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Proper Use of a Blood Pressure Monitor
Take Your Blood Pressure Readings at Home
Is it enough to have your blood pressure taken when you see your doctor?
If you have high blood pressure, then the answer is no. A lot can happen in between visits to your doctor and having your own blood pressure monitor at home allows you to monitor your pressure daily. Blood pressure monitors are quite affordable and easy to use.
The cost of these monitors is quite affordable. They can range from $39.00 to $129.00. The basic model offers a slip on cuff; very similar to the one used at your doctors. You will position the cuff right above the elbow, and secure it in place using the Velcro strap. Once the cuff is in place, all you need to do now is push the start button.
Most models are automated. All you need to do is keep your arm in the position (as stated in the instruction manual) until the blood pressure monitor goes through it's cycle. You will feel the cuff tighten around your arm and you can watch the digital readout as the monitor reads your pulse and blood pressure.
Keeping a Log
The whole idea of taking your blood pressure at home is to monitor your condition daily. Most people take their blood pressure three times a day - morning, afternoon, and evening.
Of course you cannot remember all of the readings, so this is where a log comes in. There are only three things that can happen when you look at your trend - your blood pressure either goes up, down, or stays the same. The log will help your doctor determine the treatment plan on your next visit.
Don't Panic if Your Numbers Jump Around
There are a lot of factors that affect your blood pressure.
Stress, lack of sleep, diet - so don't panic if your readings are a little bit out of the normal range. You also have to evaluate how you feel. If your numbers are up and you feel dizzy or lightheaded, then you may want to call your doctor and let them know how you feel.
Taking your blood pressure at home is a way to gage your blood pressure, it's not an absolute. Keep this in mind when you review your readings.
If you see your numbers starting to rise, then it's not a bad idea to review ways to naturally lower your blood pressure - before things get to far out of control.
The Right Way to Use a Blood Pressure Monitor
There are two types of monitors - the aneroid monitor and the digital monitor. The aneroid monitor is the manual type commonly used in a doctors office. The digital monitor is automated, which most people find more suitable for home use.
To get the most accurate readings, you will want to remember a couple of key preparation points.
- Rest 10 to 15 minutes before taking a reading.
- Don't drink coffee or a caffeinated drink before a test.
- Try to be as relaxed and stress free as possible before and during the test.
The aneroid monitor is the more complicated of the two monitors, so lets go over how to use this one first.
- Using the stethoscope, put in the ear pieces and place the stethoscope disk on the inner side of the crease of your elbow.
- The cuff will go a few inches above your elbow. Rapidly inflate the cuff by squeezing the rubber bulb to 30 to 40 points higher than your last systolic reading. Inflate the cuff rapidly.
- Slightly loosen the valve and slowly let some air out of the cuff. Deflate the cuff by 2 to 3 millimeters per second.
- As you let the air out of the cuff, you will begin to hear your heartbeat. Listen carefully for the first sound. Check the blood pressure reading by looking at the pointer on the dial. This number will be your systolic pressure (high number).
- Continue to deflate the cuff. Listen to your heartbeat. You will hear your heartbeat stop at some point. Check the reading on the dial. This number is your diastolic pressure (low number).
- Write down your blood pressure, with the systolic pressure before the diastolic pressure (for example, 120/80).
- If you want to repeat the measurement, wait 2 to 3 minutes before re-inflating the cuff.
As mentioned, most people prefer the digital monitor for home use but some people trust the traditional aneroid monitor, so the choice is yours.
When Should You Become Concerned?
When your average readings rise above 140/90, you have passed the prehypertension stage.
This is one reason taking your blood pressure daily is important, you can take action to avoid prehypertension or stage 1 high blood pressure.
Any hint of blood pressure problems should be cause for concern. There is good reason this disease has the name "silent killer," the signs are not always obvious but the numbers don't lie.