Many organizations, including the American Heart Association (AHA), recommend patients diagnosed with hypertension to measure their blood pressure at home. Self-monitoring can help ensure that your medications are working and alert you or your doctor about potential health issues.
Blood pressure devices are widely available and they do not need a prescription. Thus, there is no reason why you should not buy one, especially if you have hypertension. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the important information you need to know about home BP monitors.
Why Buy a Home Blood Pressure Monitor?
A home BP apparatus can:
#1 Reduce Your Expenses
Self-monitoring can decrease your visits to the clinic.
#2 Help in Tracking Your Treatment
You can help your doctor make proper treatment decisions by monitoring your own blood pressure at home. Your doctor can use your measurements to change medications or adjust your dosages.
#3 Help Diagnose Early Onset Hypertension
Self-monitoring allows your doctor to diagnose masked hypertension and white coat hypertension using your readings outside your doctor’s normal office hours.
Types and Parts of Blood Pressure Monitor for Home Use
There are manual and automatic blood pressure devices but the most recommended ones are electronic or automatic devices.
Blood pressure devices usually have the following basic parts:
#1 Gauge for Readouts
There are BP devices that can take more than one reading as well as report average measurements.
#2 Inflatable Cuff
This component’s inner layer squeezes your arm and is filled with air while it’s outer layer is equipped with a fastener that holds the cuff in place.
Make sure that the BP device is validated before buying it. Its readings should be repeatable and accurate. Your doctor can help you confirm if the device is validated. Also, check your device’s accuracy with your doctor once a year. Your doctor can compare his/her measurements using the office BP monitor with those of yours.
Things to Consider When Buying a BP Monitor
Consider the following features when buying a home-use blood pressure monitor:
The price of blood pressure monitors vary. Do your research before buying a BP monitor. You are lucky If your health insurance provider covers BP monitor costs.
You should clearly see and easily read your measurement on the device’s display.
#3 Cuff Size
It is important that you get a BP monitor that properly fits in your arm. Poorly fitting cuffs will result in inaccurate measurements. You can ask your nurse or doctor what cuff size is right for you.
Tips to Get Accurate Readings at Home
Below are some tips to ensure that you get reliable blood pressure readings:
#1 Check the Accuracy of Your Device First
Before you use a BP monitor that you just bought, you can ask your doctor to check its accuracy. We also recommend measuring your blood pressure with your doctor watching you. This makes sure that you are using the device properly.
#2 Take Your Measurement Twice Daily
Take the first measurement in the morning before you eat or take any medication and the other one at night. Take 2 to 3 readings for each measurement cycle to ensure that you get accurate results. However, each reading should have at least a 1-minute to 3-minute interval. If you are using a blood pressure monitor that does not automatically log your blood pressure measurements, better create a record book for your readings.
#3 Place the Device’s Cuff on Your Skin
Do not place the BP monitor’s cuff over clothing. This can result in inaccurate measurements.
#4 Position Your Arm Properly
When taking blood pressure measurements, make sure that you use one arm for all measurements. Your arm should be resting. Raise it to the same level as your heart. You can use a chair arm, desk, or table. To elevate your arm high enough, place a cushion or pillow under your arm.
#5 Calm Yourself Before & During the Measurement
Before taking your blood pressure levels, rest for around 5 minutes. Make yourself comfortable. Lean back on a chair and your ankles and legs should be uncrossed. Clear your mind and do not think of stressful things. Also, do not talk while having your measurement.
#6 Avoid Alcohol, Tobacco, & Food Before Taking Your Measurement
Avoid the ones mentioned above 30 minutes prior to taking your blood pressure measurement. You should also empty your bladder first because your reading might increase slightly when your bladder is full.
#7 Do Not Take a Measurement Right After Waking Up
In addition to this, do not take medications, eat breakfast, or exercise before taking your measurement.
Measuring your blood pressure at home helps in managing hypertension. Although you will have a lot of options when buying, choosing the right one for you ensures that you will get accurate measurements. Make sure to follow the tips we gave for proper blood pressure monitoring. If you experience a persistent increase in your blood pressure, we recommend contacting your doctor.