Using a Blood Pressure Monitor
A person's blood pressure is important, as it can be useful and sometimes vital for providing information about the state of an individual's health. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition that affects the heart, causing it to work harder to pump blood around the body. Doctors will normally use blood pressure readings to determine a person's risk of developing heart conditions and, very often, people that have high blood pressure will own personal monitors so that they can stay up-to-date with their blood pressure without having to visit their doctor every other week.
If you require a blood pressure then it is worth researching the type that you need, Omron is a well-recognised manufacturer and many professionals would recommend purchasing one of their products to ensure accuracy in readings.
How to use a blood pressure monitor
Most blood pressure monitors will come with instructions attached, but there are several factors that you should keep in mind when you are using them.
- Your blood pressure can be higher at certain times. It is therefore advised that you check at a time when you do not need the toilet, when you have not recently eaten a big meal and when you have not recently consumed or taken caffeine or nicotine.
- Clothing can affect the accuracy of readings so it is important that you check that you are able to push your sleeve up comfortably so that it cannot interfere with your device.
- Make sure that you always use the same arm, as each will give you a slightly different reading. Use the arm that your medical professional uses if possible.
- Rest for five minutes before taking a reading. If you have recently completed an activity or if there are external distractions, then you may record an inaccurate reading. Ideally you will be sitting at a desk or table with your arm resting on a firm surface and with your feet flat on the floor.
- Ensure that your arm is at the same level as your heart – you may need to support or raise the arm to ensure this. Your arm should also be relaxed and not tense.
- Stay silent and still when you are measuring your blood pressure level to ensure that you receive an accurate reading. It is also important that you are comfortable and relaxed when you are taking your reading.
- It is important that you do not rely on just one reading. Taking two or three with about two minutes in between each is the best way to discover the average and, therefore, most accurate reading.
- Make sure that you record the reading – some devices can record the measurement internally, but it is important that, if your monitor does not, you record the reading somewhere else for comparison.
- Do not estimate or round your readings up or down. It is important that you take accurate readings as incorrect measurements may have a negative effect on how you progress with treatment.
- Do not assume the worst if you get a one-off high reading. It may be a discrepancy and sometimes it may be caused by something that you cannot control. It is important to make a note of the reading still, but it's also important that, as long as it is rare, you do not let it worry you too much.
- Do not check your blood pressure levels too often. Checking more often than is necessary can actually lead to stress and anxiety in some people if the measurements appear different in a short space of time. There are a lot of factors that can affect your blood pressure so it is important that your readings are taken consistently, but not too often.
If you have been asked to monitor your blood pressure then it could be because your doctor is concerned that it is either too low or too high. It is important that you follow medical advice when it has been given, but it is also important that you do not panic unnecessarily about any readings; stressing about your readings can actually have the adverse effect of actually raising your pressure higher. It is worth following this guide even if a medical professional has not recommended that you monitor your blood pressure. Checking your blood pressure regularly can be a good way of ensuring that you are healthy as you may suffer from high blood pressure even if you do not appear to be at risk.
If you do have high blood pressure then monitoring and following medical advice is the best way to proceed. Improving your lifestyle is often recommended by a doctor as diet and exercise can have a positive effect on your blood pressure. High blood pressure medications are also available to aid in lowering or normalising blood pressure when lifestyle factors are not resulting in the desired effect.