Managing Your High Blood Pressure With A Home Blood Pressure Monitor

Every year, millions of people around the globe are affected by hypertension or high blood pressure. With a reputation of being a silent killer, high blood pressure triggers more strokes and heart attacks than any other disease.

The treatment of hypertension involves regular monitoring of your blood pressure. And, a home blood pressure monitor is an easy and convenient way by which you can avoid regular visits to the doctor to have your blood pressure checked and helps to keep track of your readings right at home.

Blood pressure monitor.

Many times, for people suffering from hypertension, checking their blood pressure once in a while at the doctor’s clinic may not be sufficient and they may have to do it more often. In such cases, it is a sensible decision to invest in an inexpensive and simple blood pressure monitor. This is especially useful if you have started some new treatment for blood pressure control.

And, the best part is that you don’t require a doctor’s prescription to buy a blood pressure monitor for your home. However, before investing in one, you should be aware of the various kinds of blood pressure monitors available, their features, etc.

In This Article You Will Learn…What Is Blood Pressure?How Is Blood Pressure Measured?Systolic Blood PressureDiastolic Blood PressureHow Does Blood Pressure Affect Your Health?High Blood PressureLow Blood PressureWhat Is A Blood Pressure Monitor?Different Types Of Blood Pressure Monitors And How They WorkManual AuscultationDigital OscillometricHow Did Blood Pressure Monitors Improve Over The Years?App-Based Blood Pressure MonitorsStorageHow To Measure Your Blood Pressure?Upper Arm Cuff Vvs Wrist Blood Pressure MonitorsUpper Arm Cuff Blood Pressure MonitorsWrist Blood Pressure MonitorsWhy Different Measuring Spots Can Produce Very Different ResultsHow To Get The Most Accurate Blood Pressure MeasurementHow Often Should I Get My Blood Pressure Monitor Calibrated?Tips To Maintain Your Blood Pressure Monitor

What Is Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a condition that affects hundreds of people around every day. The human body requires oxygen and energy to function and this is provided when the heart beats and pumps the blood to the various parts of the body.

When the blood moves throughout the body, it exerts pressure on the sides of the blood vessels. This force exerted by the blood on the blood vessels and the measurement of the force used by the heart to pump out blood is known as blood pressure.

If the pressure of the blood is very high, it exerts a lot of strain on the arteries and on the heart, which may lead to heart attack and stroke.

Related: Omron 7 Series Blood Pressure and Omron 10 Series Blood Pressure Review

How Is Blood Pressure Measured?

Blood pressure is usually measured in mmHg or millimeters of mercury. When you take a blood pressure reading, it usually comprises 2 levels and shows as one reading on top of the other.

Systolic Blood Pressure

The reading on the top is known as the systolic blood pressure, which essentially is the highest level of the blood pressure when the heart beats or the pressure when the heart pumps the blood out.

How to take blood pressure reading

How to accurately take a blood pressure reading at home. What is a good systolic and diastolic blood pressure reading? #health #bloodpressure #bloodpressurediet #bloodpressurefoods

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Diastolic Blood Pressure

The number at the bottom is the diastolic blood pressure, which is the lowest level reached by the blood pressure when the heart relaxes in between the beats.

Generally, blood pressure readings are:

  • Normal Blood Pressure: Between the range 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • High Blood Pressure: 140/90mmHg or more
  • Low Blood Pressure: 90/60mmHg or lower

How Does Blood Pressure Affect Your Health?

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is associated with unhealthy habits such as being overweight, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking and not having sufficient exercise. High blood pressure puts excess strain on your heart and the blood vessels, which can cause them to get damaged and become weak over time.

The condition of high blood pressure must be controlled or this can increase your risk of developing several serious health problems that can affect the various parts of the body such as:

  • Heart: High blood pressure can cause heart attack and heart failure.
  • Brain: Hypertension is the main cause of strokes and also increases the risk of dementia.
  • Kidneys: It can cause kidney disease.
  • Limbs: Hypertension can affect the legs as it can cause peripheral arterial disease.

And, if you suffer from other health problems such as high cholesterol and diabetes, your risk of health problems become greater.

Low Blood Pressure

On the other hand, the condition of low blood pressure is not very common and can be caused due to conditions such as dehydration or heart failure, or it can be a side effect of some medicines.

What Is A Blood Pressure Monitor?

The device that is used to measure blood pressure is known as a blood pressure monitor or a sphygmomanometer, blood pressure meter or a blood pressure gauge. Typically, a blood pressure monitor comprises an inflatable cuff that collapses and releases the artery in a controlled way and an aneroid gauge or a mercury manometer measures the pressure.

The monitor also has a means by which it is inflated manually by means of a valve and bulb or a pump that is electrically operated.

Blood pressure monitor.

The blood pressure monitor is used along with some method that helps to determine the pressure at which the blood flow begins and the pressure at which the blood flow is unconstrained. Usually, manual sphygmomanometers are used along with a stethoscope.

Different Types Of Blood Pressure Monitors And How They Work

Manual Auscultation

The auscultatory method is a manual method by which blood pressure is measured. This is also known as the Riva Rocci Korotkoff method and is the gold standard in blood pressure measurement, where the trained medical practitioner makes use of the sphygmomanometer and by making use of a stethoscope, listens to the Korotkoff sounds in the brachial artery.

Digital Oscillometric

In the case of digital blood pressure monitors, they make use of electronic calculations and oscillometric measurements instead of auscultation. They either use manual or automatic methods of inflation, both are electronic, they can be used in environments that are noisy and can be operated without any training.

The systolic and diastolic pressures are measured by making use of oscillometric detection.

The measurement of blood pressure by using digital oscillometric monitors may not be as accurate as manual meters and they may not be recommended for use for patients suffering from conditions such as arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis, preeclampsia, etc., as the calculations may not be accurate and for such conditions, it may be better to use an analog sphygmomanometer.

The oscillometric method of measuring blood pressure may produce different readings compared to when determined using the method of auscultation and they vary due to various factors such as heart rate, arterial stiffness and pulse pressure.

How Did Blood Pressure Monitors Improve Over The Years?

Over the years, there have been several advancements in the blood pressure monitor technology and today you have options such as:

App-Based Blood Pressure Monitors

Some models of blood pressure monitors can connect to your smart device wirelessly and enables you to store your data and track it electronically.

These app-based blood pressure monitors offer better data logging functions when compared to the traditional standalone monitors.

App-Based Blood Pressure Monitors.

They offer features such as data manipulation and ability to produce graphs, longer storage of history and the ability to connect with other health apps for more complete monitoring of your overall health.

Usually, app-based monitors do not have their own display and you need to use your phone before taking a blood pressure measurement.

You need to pair your smartphone with your blood pressure monitor, which may make the process a bit complex, especially if you are not very comfortable using technology.

Storage

Some of the models of blood pressure monitors collect the readings of the user and store them; some models can do it for as many as 6 people.

The reading storage function is especially beneficial if you have more than one person suffering from high blood pressure in your home or you want to buy a single monitor with advanced features rather than having multiple monitors.

There are blood pressure monitors which can store up to 60 readings.

Some monitors allow you to download your readings onto your computer or laptop and some even come with storage devices like memory sticks that enable you to store all your readings.

This could be particularly useful if you want to share your blood pressure readings with your doctor.

How To Measure Your Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure can be measured by following the steps below:

  • According to the instructions with the blood pressure monitor, fasten the blood pressure cuff.
  • Ensure that you are completely relaxed and comfortable. Being uncomfortable or anxious can cause your blood pressure to increase temporarily.
  • While your blood pressure reading is being taken, keep silent and still as talking or moving can affect the readings.
  • Take 2-3 readings that are around 2 minutes apart and calculate the average. Many times, you may find that the first blood pressure reading is higher than the subsequent readings. If this occurs, then repeat taking readings until they stop falling or the readings level out. Use this as your final reading.
  • It is a good idea to record your blood pressure reading either on your blood pressure monitor’s memory, on paper or your computer.

Some tips to follow when taking blood pressure readings:

  • Never round the blood pressure readings up or down. Keeping accurate records of your blood pressure can help you get the proper treatment.
  • If you get a very high reading, don’t get alarmed as this may be just a one-off reading and not a cause of worry. Measure your blood pressure again after a while and if you still find the reading to be high, then consult your medical practitioner.
  • Avoid checking your blood pressure often, as small changes in the reading can cause you to become stressed or worried that may actually cause your reading to become higher and raise your blood pressure in the short term.

Upper Arm Cuff Vvs Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors

Upper Arm Cuff Blood Pressure Monitors

These are the more commonly used blood pressure monitoring devices. These blood pressure monitors are usually used by doctors or healthcare professionals to take the blood pressure. Upper arm cuff monitors are usually very accurate.

Upper Arm Cuff Blood Pressure Monitors.

They are easy to keep at the level of the heart in order to get accurate readings. Upper arm blood pressure monitors usually have larger displays that are easier to read.

However, they are quite uncomfortable and bulky when compared to other devices to monitor blood pressure. The cuff of these monitors is difficult to put on, especially if you’re doing it with one hand.

Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors

These models are gradually becoming popular and resemble large wrist watches. These blood pressure monitor models are comparatively smaller and unnoticeable when compared to upper arm cuff blood pressure monitors. Wrist blood pressure monitors are easier to put on, but to get an accurate reading, it may be difficult to keep them at the necessary height.

Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors

Wrist blood pressure monitors are much smaller in size and so if you’re traveling they are very easy to pack and carry along. Although they are very convenient to use and the technology is also improving, wrist blood pressure monitors are still not as accurate as upper arm cuff blood pressure monitors.

Why Different Measuring Spots Can Produce Very Different Results

As we grow older, the blood vessels may harden because of arteriosclerosis or may become narrow because of calcification. This especially affects the arteries located in the wrist, as they are located farther away from the heart.

This makes the accurate measurement of blood pressure more difficult. This is the reason why older people and people who smoke must take their blood pressure readings on the upper arm. People with diabetes may have porous or calcified arteries, which makes them unsuitable for wrist blood pressure monitors.

Usually, the readings taken on the upper arm is different compared to the measurements taken on the wrist. If you are using a wrist blood pressure monitor, then your wrist must be positioned at the level of your heart.

If the wrist is placed flat on the table if you are sitting, then the blood pressure will be elevated by around 7-8 mmHg as there is a difference in the level of the heart and the wrist, i.e. 1.5 cm = 1 mmHg.

You will also get incorrect readings if you measure the blood pressure at the wrist in the case you have any changes in the arteries in your wrist due to old age or if you suffer from cardiac arrhythmia. Wrist blood pressure monitors also may produce wrong readings for older people.

However, the arteries in the upper arm are not so sensitive to such things and so it is recommended that you take blood pressure readings on the upper arm.

See also: Panasonic EW3109W Blood Pressure Review

How To Get The Most Accurate Blood Pressure Measurement

When you are measuring your blood pressure, you need to follow the correct technique, as if you do it wrong, you can get a reading that is either too high or very low. Before you begin taking readings with your blood pressure monitor at home, check your machine against the machine at your doctor’s clinic.

Next, ensure that the size of the cuff is correct and that the inflatable portion covers at least 80 percent of the upper arm.

Measure your blood pressure early in the morning before taking your medication for blood pressure and then check again in the evening. You should follow this routine when you first begin taking blood pressure readings at home.

Doctor measuring blood pressure - studio shot on white background.

Later, you can follow the routine as recommended by your medical practitioner or check your blood pressure once or twice in a month.

Tips to get accurate blood pressure readings:

  • checkTake your blood pressure at the same time every day. Usually, the blood pressure levels are lowest in the morning and as the day progresses, the levels rise gradually.
  • checkAvoid tobacco, caffeine, eating or exercising for at least 1 hour before you take your blood pressure reading, as all of these can cause your blood pressure to spike temporarily.
  • checkGo to the bathroom before taking your blood pressure readings, as a full bladder can cause the systolic pressure to raise by around 10-15 mmHg.
  • checkRest around 5 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. You should place your feet on the floor with your legs uncrossed and position the cuff at the level of the heart, as all of these can affect the systolic pressure by around 2-10 mmHg.
  • checkPut the blood pressure cuff on the bare skin, as placing it over your clothes can cause the systolic pressure to be raised up to 40 mmHg.
  • checkWhile taking your blood pressure remain quiet without talking, as talking can cause the systolic pressure to be raised by around 10-15 mmHg.
  • checkIf your reading is very high, don’t panic. Relax for a while and take the readings again.
  • checkYou should keep a note of all your blood pressure readings and the time they have been taken.

How Often Should I Get My Blood Pressure Monitor Calibrated?

Since the blood pressure monitor is automatic, to ensure that it gives accurate readings, the device must be calibrated once in 2 years. In order to re-calibrate your home blood pressure monitor, you will have to send it to the manufacturer, who may charge you a re-calibration fee.

To calibrate your home blood pressure monitor:

  • Buy a high-quality blood pressure monitor that is reliable.
  • Have the accuracy of the blood pressure monitor checked by your doctor.
  • Take your blood pressure using your monitor and ask your doctor or nurse to supervise the process and check if you’re doing it correctly.
  • Ask the doctor or nurse to take your blood pressure and see if there are any variations.
  • Although this process will not calibrate your monitor, you can determine the accuracy of your monitor.
  • The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that you carry out this exercise once in a year.
  • Buying a high-quality monitor along with regular maintenance can help to reduce inaccurate measurements.
  • The device you purchase will already be calibrated correctly and will come with instructions on how to calibrate and maintain the blood pressure monitor. All you need to do is follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Some models may require you to inflate and then deflate the pressure cuff for a few times while adjusting the knob or the screw till the monitor is calibrated.
  • You can send the blood pressure monitor to the company that specializes in calibrating blood pressure monitors or send it back to the manufacturer, who can have the blood pressure monitor calibrated for you

Try out the Generation Guard Blood Pressure Monitor

Tips To Maintain Your Blood Pressure Monitor

Here are some tips for the maintenance and storage of your blood pressure monitor:

  • Avoid exposure of the blood pressure monitor and cuff to direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, moisture or humidity.
  • Avoid folding the cuff or the tubing tightly.
  • Avoid inflating the monitor more than 299 mmHg.
  • Do not disassemble the blood pressure monitor.
  • Avoid exposing the monitor to strong vibrations or shocks, i.e. avoid dropping the monitor.
  • Clean the monitor with a soft and dry cloth. Avoid using volatile liquids in order to clean the blood pressure monitor.
  • Avoid washing the arm cuff or avoid immersing it in water.
  • When the blood pressure monitor is not being used, keep it in its storage case.
  • Ensure that you unplug the air tube from the air jack and fold it gently into the arm cuff.
  • Avoid storing the monitor if it wet.
  • Avoid storing the blood pressure monitor in places that are exposed to direct sunlight, humidity, extreme temperatures, chemicals, corrosive vapors or dust.
  • Avoid storing the monitor at an angle and in places where the unit will be at an angle and be exposed to shocks and vibrations.

A blood pressure monitor is an extremely vital device and can save your life. If you suffer from hypertension, monitoring your blood pressure constantly can help you to change your lifestyle and diet or take the necessary medication to get your blood pressure under control.

Blood pressure monitor.

Buying the right blood pressure monitor for your home can be a little overwhelming. Apart from an accurate device, you would also want the monitor to be reliable, user-friendly and affordable too. You can go through our buyer’s guide that will give you a list of the best blood pressure monitors available which you can consider buying for use at home.

Resources:MayoClinicAmericanHeartAssociationWebMDNHLBINHSHealthLine

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