Home Care Management of Hypertension
Although millions of Australians have high blood pressures, not all of them have it under control. According to experts, adopting a simple-step -home blood pressure monitoring- can help many more people with uncontrolled hypertension get it under control.
When high blood pressure is not controlled, people become at high risk for heart attack, stroke or brain aneurysm. And even though research has shown that a home pressure blood monitor can be very effective, only about a third of people with hypertension check their blood pressure at home at least once a month. Doctors and other healthcare professionals recommend home blood pressure monitoring for different reasons, including the ability to:
- Provide your doctor with information that can assist in the understanding and management of your hypertension
- Be constantly aware of a vital indicator of your overall health
- Find out how you’re responding to medication
There is also the fact that some types of hypertension can only be detected by monitoring blood pressure at home. Examples include white-coat hypertension which blood pressure reading is high in the doctor’s office but lower at home, and masked hypertension which blood pressure reading is low in the doctor’s office but higher at home. Plus, many factors can affect your blood pressure, including physical exertion, emotion fluctuations, stress and medications, hence the importance of regularly monitor your blood pressure at home.
By keeping track of your home blood pressure readings, you can provide your doctor with a log of blood pressure measurements over time, and this can help them evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment.
How to Choose a Blood Pressure Monitor?
In order to be able to take blood pressure measurements at home, you will need to buy blood pressure monitor. There is a wide range of home blood pressure machine available, but it’s important to buy blood pressure monitor that is accurate and the right fit for you.
Choose Arm Cuffs Over Wrist Cuffs
Doctors often recommend their patients get a monitor with a cuff that wraps around the upper arm because it is more accurate. These monitors inflate the cuffs automatically and display readings. Most models come with “risk category indicators” that will flag high readings. Some models enable you to download results to a computer to make it easier to share the information with your doctor.
Get the Right Fit
To right cuff size should wrap snugly around your upper arm, living space to slide only two fingertips underneath. Home blood pressure monitors generally come with a medium-sized cuff. If you have a particularly smaller or larger than average upper arm, you may need to buy a different-sized cuff separately.
Choose One That’s Easy to Use
The display on the monitor should be easy to read and the buttons should be large and intuitive. The directions for using the cuff and operating the monitor should also be clear.
Select the Features You Need
When selecting a blood pressure monitor, there will be many features to consider. Here are some you may want to consider: a risk-category indicator, an irregular-heartbeat detector, multiple user memories, multiple cuffs, a large-digit display, memory download capability, and data-averaging functions.
Get It Serviced Every 2 Years
Your blood pressure monitor should be regularly serviced and calibrated to make sure it’s accurate – generally, at least once every two years. You’ll probably have to send the device back to the manufacturer and a fee will probably be charged.
Stay Away of Smart Apps
Take a look at any app store and you likely find dozens of blood pressure measurement apps for smartphone. However, keep in mind that these apps haven’t been rigorously tested. Most of the apps are designed to measure your blood pressure through valve pulse wave velocity, which essentially looks at the waveform in the artery of your finger. But according to experts, those are often inaccurate. The last thing a person with high blood pressure want is to obtain false information and be falsely reassured or falsely scared.
What is a Normal Blood Pressure Reading?
A normal blood pressure reading is below 140/90, but if you have diabetes or kidney disease, heart or circulatory disease, your blood pressure should ideally be less than 130-80.
Keep in mind that many things can affect blood pressure reading. One of them is nervousness about having your blood pressure taken. This is called “white coat syndrome”. What you ate, drank and did before your reading can also affect the results. For example, if you smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine, or exercise within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured, your reading might be higher.
Your health care provider will tell you how often you should have your blood pressure measured. If you have high blood pressure you may need to have it checked more often then individuals who don’t have high blood pressure. When concerned about your numbers, talk with your doctor so he/she can help you make a plan to manage your high blood pressure.