Blood pressure testing at home is done by many people suffering from hypertension.
According to research presented last fall at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual meeting, 70 percent of the 103 million American adults suffering hypertension could get it under control by monitoring it at home.
Home monitoring assures that the patient is on appropriate medication dosages, as well as taking it the correct number of times. And, of course, maintaining correct blood pressure between doctor visits is important.
Blood Pressure Testing: Do It Right!
Testing your blood pressure at home is often more accurate than in the doctors’ office. You’re more relaxed and focused. Your nervousness at your doctors’ office is called “white coat hypertension”, where the blood pressure shoots up considerably.
Because of these variations, experts say that people with rising hypertension to a range of 130/80 mm Hg or higher should monitor at home to get an accurate reading. But, many patients may not be familiar with the correct to self monitor at home. For this reason, here are a few tips on how to measure your pressure the right way.
Blood Pressure Testing: Buy a Good Machine
Home blood pressure monitors come in arm cuff, wrist cuff and finger models. Of the three, the automatic upper-arm cuff-style model is the right one way to get for a reliable reading.
Make sure the cuff fits as too large or small, gives you the wrong reading.
Blood Pressure Testing: Accuracy Is Key
Testing accuracy is key. A 2016 study found that over 30% of home blood pressure monitors were off by at least five points. Get your blood pressure checked by your doctor, then check it on your machine. Compare the numbers — if your systolic (upper number) reading is within 10 mm, it’s accurate to use.
Things To Avoid Before Testing Yourself
Don’t smoke, drink coffee/tea or exercise within 30 minutes of checking your blood pressure. Also, use the bathroom before you test. A full bladder can add 10-15 points to your score, according to the AHA.
For accurate results, sit in a chair with your back supported, feet flat, and legs uncrossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface (such as a table) with the upper arm at heart level. Just sit there — don’t do anything else. No multitasking, no conversations with anyone, as that can also add 10-15 points to your score. Just sit silently and still.
And last, strap the cuff on your bare skin — not over your clothing. Doing on clothing can add a whopping 10-40 Hg to your score. You don’t want that to happen.
Measure your blood pressure at the same time every day. No need to measure it more than once a day. The best time to take your reading, according to experts, is in the morning. Do it before you eat breakfast and had your coffee.
Take Multiple Readings
The AHA recommends taking two or three readings one minute apart. Record and keep this record and bring it to your next doctors visit. However, if your reading exceeds 180/120 Hg, wait 5 minutes and re-test. If you get the same score or very close to it, call your doctor ASAP — or get yourself over to an Emergency room.