Taking Your Blood Pressure at Home
Your heart pumps blood throughout your body in a system of arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood pressure is he force with which your blood moves through your blood vessels.
There are two numbers used to measure blood pressure. The common recommended blood pressure is 120/(over)80. The top number is your systolic pressure. That is the pressure when your heart contracts and pushes the blood through your arteries. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure. That is the pressure in your arteries when your heart is relaxed and refills with blood.
Your doctor may advise you to take regular blood pressure and heart rate readings at home, or you may decide to do this for your own interest. Either way, it is important that you learn how to take an accurate reading.
If you are a person living with hypertension, diabetes, have just had major surgery or simply interested in watching your health, you have probably been advised to use a home blood pressure monitoring device to keep a check on your blood pressure levels throughout the day.
Monitoring your own blood pressure and heart rate can make you feel more in control of your condition and you may have more confidence in the treatment you have been given. Your healthcare professionals will be interested in seeing a well-organized chart recording your heart rate and blood pressure at regular intervals. It provides information that will help your doctor get you the best treatment.
A home blood pressure monitor is an electronic device that you can use in the comfort of your own home. It is small and portable and usually runs on battery power. Used on one arm, an electronic blood pressure monitor gives you electronic diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings.
However, measuring your blood pressure at home can also make you more anxious about your condition. If so, you should try to resist the temptation to take readings more often than your doctor has recommended. Your doctor will discuss with you your present blood pressure and heart rate values, and explain to you the target values that should be achieved with the help of your treatment.
It is fairly easy to use one of these monitors. Here are the steps to getting the right readings.
There are a few simple steps that you can follow to be sure that you get an accurate reading of your blood pressure.
Before you take your blood pressure reading
· Many things can make your blood pressure rise for a short time. Make sure you do not need to use the toilet, and that you have not just eaten a big meal. Do not measure your blood pressure within 30 minutes of drinking caffeine or smoking.
· Wear loose-fitting clothes like a short sleeved t-shirt so that you can push your sleeve up comfortably.
· Always use the same arm for blood pressure readings, as each arm will give you a slightly different reading. If possible, use the arm that your doctor or nurse uses when measuring your blood pressure.
· Before you take your readings, rest for five minutes. You should be sitting down in a quiet place, preferably at a desk or table, with your arm resting on a firm surface and your feet flat on the floor.
· Make sure your arm is supported and that the cuff around your arm is at the same level as your heart. You may need to support your arm with a cushion to be sure it is at the correct height. Your arm should be relaxed, not tensed.
· Press the start button on the meter and allow it to pump air into the cuff. The machine will stop pumping air automatically once it can sense your pulse. At this point the cuff may feel tight or uncomfortable, know that this is normal and only momentary; soon the pressure will be released.
· Once the final readings blink on the screen, note them down for future reference.
· If you aren't sure about the accuracy of the monitor you can take two readings one after the other and then calculate an average of the readings.
· Don't take a blood pressure reading when you are anxious, angry, upset, have just walked or exerted yourself.
· Don't talk or move while taking the reading as this can lead to higher than normal readings.
· Don't be anxious about what results you might see as this can raise your blood pressure too.
· Don't check your blood pressure too often - you may become worried or stressed about small changes in your reading. This can raise your blood pressure in the short-term. Worrying about your blood-pressure reading may actually make it higher.
· Although there are many medications available to control high blood pressure, the one most commonly prescribed is a diuretic. This is the go-to choice of many doctors for two reasons. They've been prescribing them for decades and diuretics are inexpensive when compared to other blood pressure medications.
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