If you have hypertension, you know how important it is to keep your blood pressure readings under control. Poorly controlled hypertension can lead to damage to a variety of organs including your heart, eyes, and kidneys. Although you can visit your doctor’s office to have your blood pressure checked it can be inconvenient to do on a frequent basis particularly if your doctor is located far from your home. Although more convenient, the devices used to measure blood pressure in grocery stores and pharmacies are prone to inaccuracies. The simple solution if you have elevated blood pressure readings is to do home blood pressure measurement.
What are the advantages of home blood pressure measurement? Some people experience a rise in blood pressure as soon as they step into a doctor’s office. This phenomenon known as “white coat hypertension” can result in falsely elevated blood pressure readings that go down after you head back to the comfort of your home. Sometimes simply the knowledge that someone is taking your blood pressure can provoke enough anxiety to raise the blood pressure several points. By doing home blood pressure measurement, you’ll get a more accurate idea of your resting blood pressure when you’re not anxious or stressed. This can help your doctor make appropriate adjustments to your blood pressure medication.
To do home blood pressure measurement, you can use a standard aneroid blood pressure monitor or a digital one. Although the aeroid monitor takes some practice to learn to use, it’s less expensive and is easy to carry from place to place. This works well if you travel frequently. A digital blood pressure monitor is easier to read but is more cumbersome and expensive. Both types of monitors will work so it’s a question of which best suits your lifestyle and budget. Whichever type of monitor you choose, take it to your doctor’s office to verify that it’s calibrated correctly so you can get accurate readings. They can also help you learn to use the equipment if you don’t feel comfortable learning on your own.
Once you start doing home blood pressure measurement, keep a regular journal of your blood pressure readings so you can take them with you when you visit your doctor for evaluation. Include the blood pressure reading along with the date and time of day it was taken. Always take readings after resting for at least five minutes, ideally sitting in a chair.
To get an accurate idea of your pressures, take a reading in the morning and in the evening for at least five days. After that, if your blood pressures are acceptable, you can decrease the frequency of the measurements to a morning and evening reading once a week. If your doctor makes adjustments to your blood pressure medication, you’ll want to do more frequent checks to see how your blood pressure is responding to the change.
Home blood pressure measurement can be useful, particularly if you experience elevated readings in your doctor’s office related to anxiety. Plus, it’s always nice to have a record of your readings to present to your doctor when you go for your regular exams.