The first time you sit down to take your own BP, even in the comfort of your own home, the numbers you get might be higher than normal. But once you get in the routine of doing it every day – ideally at the same time and before taking any medication, making it sort of a ritual – then you’ll get used to it, and the numbers you record will reflect what’s really going on with your BP.
The video emphasizes tips for getting an accurate reading, but in a nutshell they include:
● Find a quiet place to sit with your back supported and your feet flat on the floor
● Wear the cuff on your nondominant (bare) arm and use an automatic arm cuff (wrist devices are not reliable!)
● Rest your arm at heart level and relax for about five minutes before measuring
● Don’t talk or check your cellphone or anything else – just relax
● Save the numbers to your blood pressure log
● Don’t skip a session
Who should do home BP monitoring?
The simplest answer is that I think everyone can benefit from knowing their true BP, and this can be obtained at home more accurately than in the doctor’s office. Certainly, if you’ve gone to the dentist, an obstetrician, a walk-in clinic, an emergency room, or to see any other health professional and had your BP checked and were told the reading was high, then following up with home monitoring is the right thing to do.
Knowing that hypertension is the leading modifiable risk factor for heart and vascular disease and cardiovascular death, I advise home BP monitoring for anyone who wants to be proactive about his or her health.
Think of it this way: There are many factors we can’t control that affect our health – our age, sex, family history, etc. – but BP is not one of them. BP is something we can manage if we commit to it. The point is to not wait until we have something happen to us before we start taking care of ourselves but rather to stay on top of our BP starting today.
Maintaining a home BP level of less than 130/80 mmHg should be doable. If your numbers are higher than that and lifestyle changes alone or your current medications aren’t getting you there, we can help.
To schedule an appointment with a UT Southwestern hypertension expert, call 214-645-8300 or request an appointment online.