Health

Ultimate Guide to Use Blood Pressure Monitors at Home

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer”. Why is that? According to American Heart Association, many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Often the signs and symptoms are misunderstood.  High blood pressure (HBP, or hypertension) has no obvious symptoms to indicate that something is wrong. When left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats. The best ways to protect yourself are being aware of the risks and making changes that matter. This is when people at risk should consider getting a blood pressure monitor at home. What is blood pressure? Who are people at risk? What is the range of having normal blood pressure? What is the most accurate blood pressure monitor for home use? Why is it the best? Which arm to measure blood pressure right or left? What type of blood pressure monitor is better and why? How to measure your blood pressure at home? What can you do to manage your blood pressure? In this article we will explain to you about that.

What is Blood Pressure?

According to seniorcare.com.sg, blood pressure refers to the force of the body’s blood pushing against the inner walls of the blood vessels, especially the arteries. Each time the heart contracts, it pumps blood into the arteries. Blood pressure monitor measures your blood pressure.

Most of us are worried about high blood pressure and needs to monitor to keep our blood pressure in check. A minority of the population has blood pressure that is too low and may need different medications.

Who are at Risk of Having High Blood Pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone. Heart.org stated that nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure (many don’t even know they have it.) According to everydayhealth.com, monitoring blood pressure periodically is a good health practice for anyone, but it’s especially important for:

  • Anyone at risk for high blood pressure or related conditions
  • Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure/hypertension
  • Anyone currently being treated for high blood pressure/hypertension (to evaluate the effectiveness of their medication)
  • Following up on (potentially) false readings
  • Pregnant women with preeclampsia or hypertension

Know Your Number

At what number you are considered having high blood pressure? This table below can show you.

The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:

Normal

Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Elevated

Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.

Hypertension Stage 1

Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.

Hypertension Stage 2

Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.

Hypertensive Crisis

This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.

What is The Most Accurate Blood Pressure Monitor for Home Use?

According to medicalnewstoday.com, Omron is one of the most established brands on the home blood pressure (BP) monitor market. And judging by some of the online user reviews of their products, Omron is one of the first names doctors recommend to patients who are considering purchasing their own BP monitor, which would seem to justify their “#1 Doctor Recommended Brand” strapline.

To take a reading, all the user need do is attach the cuff to their upper arm and hit the big, blue button. As well as displaying your blood pressure, the machine will display stats on your pulse and even identify whether you have an irregular heartbeat.

Why Omron is The Best Blood Pressure Monitor?

According to verywellhealth.com, Omron is both crowned for having the Best Overall and Best Bluetooth’s features. Omron’s reputation for high-quality, reasonably-priced, and accurate products has made it an established leader in the home blood pressure monitor category for decades, and its 10 Series Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor continues the tradition of excellence. This monitor earns a best overall ranking for its excellent features, performance, ease of use, and overall value. You can trust the monitor’s precise readings, which show how your results compare to normal home blood pressure levels.

Users love the monitor’s simple interface for ease of use. With a large digital display, the results are very easy-to-read. The monitor also alerts you to irregular heartbeats while your blood pressure is being measured. The two-user mode allows two people to track their readings and can store up to 50 readings for each person. It also automatically displays the average of your last three measurements taken within 10 minutes

Which Arm to Measure Blood Pressure?

Several studies have been done to determine what is a normal variation between right and left arm. It’s okay to measure from either arm. Generally, according to Mayo Clinic, a small difference in blood pressure readings between arms isn’t a health concern. However, a difference of more than 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for either your top number (systolic pressure) or bottom number (diastolic) may be a sign of blocked arteries in the arms, diabetes or other health problem. If you have a large difference in blood pressure readings between arms, talk to your doctor.

Wrist vs Upper Arm Cuff’s Blood Pressure Monitor, Which One is Better?

It depends on the condition of the people who is using it. Mayo Clinic said that some wrist blood pressure monitors may be accurate if used exactly as directed. However, the American Heart Association recommends using a home blood pressure monitor that measures blood pressure in your upper arm and not using wrist or finger blood pressure monitors.

Further, Mayo Clinic also explains that wrist blood pressure monitors are extremely sensitive to body position. To get an accurate reading when taking your blood pressure with a wrist monitor, your arm and wrist must be at heart level. Even then, blood pressure measurements taken at the wrist are usually higher and less accurate than those taken at your upper arm. That’s because the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as those of the upper arm.

There are some people for which measuring blood pressure at the wrist presents an advantage: people who are so obese that an arm cuff cannot be properly wrapped around their arm, or some people can’t have their blood pressure measured at the upper arm because they have a very large arm or find blood pressure measurements painful. They are also used on women who have undergone breast cancer surgery. Other people should stick with standard upper-arm monitors.In these cases, measuring blood pressure at the wrist is acceptable.

It’s common for blood pressure readings taken at home on any type of monitor to be different from those taken at your doctor’s office. If you have a wrist blood pressure monitor, it’s a good idea to take your monitor to a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor can then check your blood pressure with both a standard upper arm monitor and a wrist monitor in the correct position in the same arm to check your wrist blood pressure monitor’s accuracy. Also make sure to use a validated device.

How to Use Blood Pressure Monitor at Home?

The American Heart Association recommends home monitoring for all people with high blood pressure to help the healthcare provider determine whether treatments are working. Home monitoring (self-measured blood pressure) is not a substitute for regular visits to your physician. If you have been prescribed medication to lower your blood pressure, don’t stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor, even if your blood pressure readings are in the normal range during home monitoring. According to AHA here’s how to do blood pressure monitoring at home:

·         Be still. 

Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least 5 minutes of quiet rest before measurements. 

·         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 bottom of the cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow. Check your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or have your healthcare 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. It is best to take the readings daily however ideally beginning 2 weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.

·         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 (PDF) or online tracker and show it to your doctor at every visit.. 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.

·         Don’t take the measurement over clothes.

How Do You Manage Your Blood Pressure?

While there is no cure, AHA promotes us to use medications as prescribed and making lifestyle changes can enhance your quality of life and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision loss and sexual dysfunction and more.

Make changes that matter:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that’s low in salt
  • Limit alcohol
  • Enjoy regular physical activity
  • Manage stress
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Take your medications properly
  • Work together with your doctor

AHA also reminds all of us that managing blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. If you have high blood pressure, it’s vital that you listen to your doctor. Remember: You’re a part of your healthcare team. You and your doctor are partners. Knowing your blood pressure is a key to a healthier life. Do all you can to avoid the serious problems that can result from your blood pressure being too high for too long?

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