High Blood Pressure is the biggest cause of early death through stroke, heart attack and heat disease. One in three adults have high blood pressure that can cause stroke or a heart attack.
Measuring your blood pressure at home can help in confirming that your readings are high. It can also be used to monitor treatment. However, it is not for everybody. Some people become more anxious when taking their own blood pressure, which can cause false high readings.
If you are able to check your own blood pressure at home, ensure you use a monitor that checks the pressure in your upper arm rather than at your wrists or finger. Also, ensure you buy or use a monitor that is fully automatic and clinically validated. Ask one of your doctors or the nurse in The Ashe Street Clinic for advice if you are considering buying your own monitor. Ensure you use the right size cuff for the size of your arm. Measure around your upper arm, about mid point between your shoulder and your elbow. If the measuring is between 18 and 22cm use a small cuff, between 22 and 32cm use a medium cuff and between 32 and 42cm use a large cuff.
Before taking your blood pressure please ensure the following:
Try to relax for 5 or 10 minutes before taking a measurement. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating a meal, drinking coffee or smoking before taking your blood pressure. Wear a loose fitting short sleeve shirt or better still remove the clothes from your arm so that they do not interfere with the reading.
Blood pressure in both arms is usually different. If it is consistently higher in one arm than in the other then only take the blood pressure from the higher reading arm. Sit on an upright chair and rest your arm on a flat surface such as a table with your feet flat on the ground. Try to sit so that your upper arm hangs down by your body and your forearm is bent approximately ninety degrees. Make sure your arm is fully relaxed before starting to read.
Write down your measurements including the systolic (upper reading), diastolic (lower reading) and pulse rate. Do not round up the measurements. Please write down the exact figures that the machine records. Measurements take approximately 30 to 60 seconds. Please sit still and silent during this time with your arm fully relaxed. If you think the first reading is incorrect or unusually high, relax for two or three minutes and take another one or two readings.
Do not be alarmed if you get an unexpected high reading. A one-off high reading may be nothing to worry about. However, if your readings are consistently high, please inform your doctor.
Checking your blood pressure too often may cause you to become stressed. In the initial stages of trying to find out if your readings are too high or to monitor treatment, check your blood pressure twice a day, maximum. However, for ongoing maintenance, once a day or twice a week may be sufficient.
Try to take your blood pressure readings around the same time each day (morning and evening). If you have your own home blood pressure monitor, please bring it to The Ashe Street Clinic to calibrated once or twice a year. When recording your blood pressure readings please make a note if there is any special circumstances such as change in medication or a lot of stress on that particular day, etc.
Normal blood pressure is usually less than 120/80. If your systolic blood pressure (the upper reading) is between 120 and 140 or if your diastolic blood pressure (the lower reading) is between 80 and 90 then your blood pressure is slightly high and needs to be monitored. If your blood pressure is greater than 140/90 you have high blood pressure and may need further investigations and treatment. Readings that are consistently greater than 160/100 nearly always need treatment.
Please remember that most people with high blood pressure have absolutely no symptoms. The only way to know that your blood pressure is elevated is to have it measured.
High blood pressure can be successfully treated and strokes and heart attacks can be prevented.
Many people with high blood pressure can control it without drugs by a combination of a healthy diet, taking more exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol and dealing with stress in their life.
Copyright © Dr. David Buckley