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10 Tips To Get Accurate Blood Pressure Readings At Home

Get Accurate Blood Pressure Readings at Home

High Blood pressure( Hypertension) is a common medical condition of the present day and age. Uncontrolled High blood pressure can lead to complications like heart diseases, kidney diseases and eye damage.

Why Do You Need BP Monitoring?

If you are diagnosed with High BP, then you need BP monitoring as advised by your doctor. But even if you are not diagnosed with Hypertension you should check your BP at least once a month. This is because most of the times, high blood pressure has no symptoms. And owing to the unhealthy eating habits and stressful lifestyle, you are at risk of high blood pressure. Also, if you have a family history, you should check your BP regularly.

What Do The Readings Mean?

Blood Pressure reading consists of two numbers and our normal BP is 120/80 mm Hg. The higher number (120 mm Hg) in the reading denotes the ‘Systolic’ pressure and signifies the pressure felt by the arteries when your heart is beating. The lower number (80 mm Hg) in the reading denotes ‘Diastolic’ pressure signifying the pressure felt by your arteries in between heartbeats.

What Is The Correct Way Of Checking BP?

There are two types of kits to measure BP. The digital and the manual.

When Using the Digital Monitor:

-Secure your arm (any arm as you please) in the cuff from your elbow upwards.

-Switch the monitor on.

-Inflate the cuff by pressing the bulb with whichever hand is free. For monitors with automatic inflators, just sit back and relax.

-Your cuff will start deflating, listen out for the long beep sounds. The first one will signify the systolic pressure, the second one will signify the diastolic pressure.

-After your monitor has registered both readings, it will display them on the screen.

-Let the cuff deflate completely and unwrap your arm.

When Using The Manual Monitor:

-Secure your arm (any arm as you please) in the cuff from your elbow upwards.

-You will need a stethoscope. Insert the head under the lower end of the cuff just above the elbow pit so that it rests on the radial artery.

-Tighten the screw on the airflow valve.

-Inflate the cuff by pressing the bulb with whichever hand is free

-Once the meter shows 180 mm Hg, slightly loosen the screw of the airflow valve and let the air escape slowly

-Listen for beats in the stethoscope with eyes on the meter. Record the meter readings when you start hearing them (systolic BP) and then again once you stop hearing them completely (Diastolic BP).

10 Tips To Get Accurate Blood Pressure Readings At Home

The biggest problem many patients face when they measure their blood pressure (BP) at home is that they get wrong readings or the values are way higher or lower than reported by the doctor. So if you have been asked to monitor your BP at home, then the first thing you need to do is take your BP monitor to your doctor’s office.

After the doctor or nurse measures your BP at the clinic, use your digital monitor to check your BP and note down the readings.

If the reading with your digital BP monitor is higher than that measured by the doctor, then subtract the difference every time you measure your BP at home and vice versa if the reading is lower.

Take your home BP monitor to your doctor’s office at least once a year for calibration.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA) here’s how people with hypertension can avoid other common mistakes and get accurate blood pressure readings at home:

1. Do not keep your arm unsupported. Don’t hold the arm or dangle it. The forearm should be supported such that it is resting flat and the upper arm is not raised or lying too low. Refer to the picture above.

2. Do not slouch. Make sure you sit with your back straight and supported on a chair. Keep your feet flat on the ground or a footstool. Do not dangle your legs or cross your legs while measuring the blood pressure. When lying on a bed, the arm should be supported on a pillow to raise it above the heart level which is situated about halfway between the bed and the breastbone.

3. Don’t use a wrong cuff size. Use a monitor with an arm cuff instead of a finger or wrist cuff. Also, ensure that the cuff is not too small and is wide enough. Remember the cuff bladder should encircle 80% or more of the arm’s circumference and it should be at least 40% the width.

4. Don’t wrap the cuff around your dress sleeve. Wrap the cuff on the bare arm in line with your heart. After you put the cuff on, sit for a few minutes before checking blood pressure.

5. Do not skip medicines. Some people tend to skip BP medicines before taking the reading or when visiting a doctor, which is not a good idea. Always take your medicines as advised by your doctor and not change the dose as per your convenience.

6. Don’t take the first reading as the main reading. Always take multiple readings, at least one or two minutes, apart every time you measure your blood pressure. Note down the average of three readings or the values of two consistent readings. Don’t check your BP only when you think your readings will be in control or extremely high but at random to get accurate results.

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7. Do not measure on a full bladder. Rest for 5 minutes after using the washroom before you measure your BP.

8. Do not move or talk. Talking over the phone or answering questions after you switch on the machine can cause deviations in the measurement. Also, wait for at least an hour after exercise or any strenuous physical activity.

9. Do not take readings the first thing in the morning. Take the readings at the same time every day or once in the morning and once in the evening.

10. Don’t drink coffee or tea. Record the readings after breakfast but not after having a high-salt meal or drinking tea or coffee.

Things To Remember

-Maintain a log-book to record your test results.

-It is best to take 3 readings, each about 2 minutes apart and then take an average of the readings for more accurate results.

-The test can also be performed at the same time on consecutive days

-If you find abnormal readings across 4-5 tests, consult your doctor.

Remember, even if you are regularly monitoring your BP at home, you still need to visit the doctor as per your periodic routine appointment or if you experience any symptoms of high blood pressure such as a severe headache, anxiety, shortness of breath or chest pain.

Recommended Reads:

Why Is Monitoring Of Blood Pressure Important?

How To Choose The Right Blood Pressure Monitor?

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