Learning how to check your blood pressure at home can help you become aware of potential problems with your heart.
You may not know that your blood pressure can change from hour to hour, sometimes even minute to minute.
Because it changes so often, you’re more likely to get a better warning of possible irregularities by checking it at home instead of relying on a single reading at your doctor’s office.
Several things can influence your blood pressure:
- standing up from a chair too quickly
- watching an exciting show on television
- eating a meal
- listening to soothing music
- stress, anxiety, worry, anger
- the time of day
In fact, both the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Society of Hypertension, urge people with high blood pressure, or at high risk for developing it, to regularly check their blood pressure themselves.
Some good reasons for learning how to check your blood pressure at home include:
1. Finding your real blood pressure.
- The measurement your doctor or nurse takes is just a set of numbers from that specific moment.
For some people, those numbers tell the story and it’s an excellent estimate of their usual blood pressure.
For others, it isn’t.
- Over to 20% of patients diagnosed with high blood pressure have what we refer to as “white-coat hypertension.”
This is a temporary spike in blood pressure brought on by the stress of having to see a doctor.
- Others have what’s called masked hypertension—which means their blood pressure is normal at the doctor’s office, but high the rest of the time.
Both of these conditions are well documented and researched.
2. Learning how to check your blood pressure at home can also help you to improve your control.
- People who check their blood pressure at home tend to be more successful at keeping it under control.
- Timely feedback helps. Instead of getting a blood pressure reading once every few months under unusual conditions (in a doctor’s office), you can get a reading every week or so at home.
3. Taking your blood pressure yourself also helps because people who actively participate in their own care generally do better than those who take a hands-off, let-the-doctor-do-it approach.
- Measuring it at home gives you important information about whether your lifestyle changes and the medications you’re taking are having a positive effect.
5. It saves time and may prevent you from having to take medications.
6. Monitoring your blood pressure at home may mean fewer trips to the doctor’s office. If you have white-coat hypertension, it may also mean taking fewer, or no, blood pressure medicines.
7. Learning how to check your blood pressure at home will help you keep it under control.
- 70 out of every 100 people with high blood pressure, don’t have it under control.
Consider learning how to check your blood pressure at home if you fall into any of these groups:
People with known or suspected hypertension
- That includes the whopping 73 million Americans with high blood pressure.
- It also includes the millions more with Type 2 Diabetes or Chronic Kidney Disease, who are at high risk for developing high blood pressure.
- Women who are pregnant
High blood pressure is a common, and problematic side effect of pregnancy.
- People who are seriously overweight
- People with a family history of high blood pressure
One last thing…Buy yourself a decent blood pressure monitor. Ask your pharmacist to recommend one that is easy to use, comfortable on your arm and known for accurate results.
In fact, ask your pharmacist everything about your medications, side effects, methods of administration, etc. They don’t always get the recognition they deserve and have many, many years of education and experience that is invaluable.
High Blood Pressure: A Silent Lethal Weapon