May 8, 2024

Effectively Monitor Blood Pressure at Home

General, Healthy Living

May is American Stroke Month, and while we want you to learn the F.A.S.T. warning signs of stroke, we also want you to realize how high blood pressure can put you at a much higher risk for stroke. High blood pressure damages arteries throughout the body leading them to burst or clog easily, causing a stroke to occur.

Regular physicals with your physician are good ways to stay on top of your blood pressure, but they may not be enough. Health organizations, including the American Heart Association and the American Society of Hypertension, recommend that people who have high blood pressure regularly monitor their readings at home — an easy, inexpensive way to help you track your blood pressure activity.   

To measure your blood pressure at home, you need the right device. With a wide variety of blood pressure monitors on the market, it’s important to select one best suited to your needs. The American Heart Association recommends an automatic cuff-style bicep (upper-arm) monitor. Wrist and finger monitors are not suggested because they can provide less reliable readings. If you are unsure what device is right for you, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

How To Use a Home Blood Pressure Monitor

Be still.

Avoid smoking, eating, using tobacco, drinking caffeine or exercising for 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Be sure to empty your bladder and rest for at least five minutes before taking your measurement.

Sit upright.

It is important to sit with your back straight and supported (on a chair rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your legs should not be crossed. Have your arm supported on a flat surface with your upper arm at heart level.

Measure at the same time every day.

Create a routine for yourself. It’s best practice to take the readings at the same time every day to get accurate readings. It is also a good idea to take the reading from the same arm each time.

Don’t take your measurements over clothes.

Make sure the cuff is placed on bare skin, not over your clothing. Also, be aware that rolling up your sleeve until it’s tight around your arm can result in an inaccurate reading, so you might need to take your arm out of the sleeve.

If your tests show your blood pressure is higher than normal, your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes to try to lower it. These can include getting regular exercise, limiting your alcohol intake, eating healthy foods and reducing the amount of salt in your diet. If lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough, your doctor may recommend medications to help lower your blood pressure.

Low blood pressure with no symptoms or very mild symptoms, such as brief episodes of dizziness when standing, rarely requires treatment. If you are seeing symptoms, the best treatment depends on the underlying cause, and you should contact your doctor.

Make checking your blood pressure a part of your daily routine to help stay on top of your heart health!

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