Blood Pressure Monitors
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Taking Your Blood Pressure At Home Is Important

Home blood pressure monitors are an important tool in managing high blood pressure. By keeping track of your blood pressure between doctor’s visits you and your doctor can be more aware of pressure shifts throughout the week and even throughout the day. It can help monitor how well medications are working and alert you to potential problems. 

Blood pressure is not static. It rises and falls depending on…

  • Physical stress
  • Emotional stress
  • Daily cycles

Emotional stress in particular can make accurate monitoring difficult. Some people respond negatively to being in a medical facility. When the doctor or attendant measures their blood pressure the reading indicates that they have hypertension. However, when the same people measure their own blood pressure at home their blood pressure is in the normal rage.

This phenomenon is known at white coat hypertension.

White coat hypertension is nothing but a heightened sense of discomfort caused by being in a medical facility (where people wear white coats). This discomfort causes your blood pressure to temporarily rise. Home blood pressure monitors are a must for people with white coat hypertension. 

There is another condition which is really the opposite of white coat hypertension. It is called masked hypertension

Masked hypertension produces normal blood pressure readings at the doctor’s office. But when taken at home it is revealed that the patient has high blood pressure when at home or the office. 

Masked hypertension is most common in…

  • Women
  • People with high blood sugar
  • People with high cholesterol
  • Overweight people

In the case of masked hypertension the use of home blood pressure monitors can reveal serious problems that might otherwise go undetected.

How Can Using Home Blood Pressure Monitors Help You?

It can save you money. 

By using home blood pressure monitors many people have…

  • Reduced the number of doctor’s visits lowering medical expenses
  • Saved travel expenses back and forth to the doctor’s office
  • Reduced lost wages from taking time off work
  • Saved on drug expenses by getting a more accurate reading

It can help you take better control. 

People who take their own blood pressure at home statistically have greater success in meeting blood pressure goals. They have a greater sense of responsibility for sticking to a blood pressure lowering regime. They also have more frequent checks of the progress being made. 

It can give you a more accurate record of treatment success. 

If you are making lifestyle changes or taking medications to lower your blood pressure then using blood pressure monitors at home is particularly important.

The only way to accurately gauge if the changes you make are working you must take frequent pressure readings. Keeping accurate records will help you and your doctor make the best decisions about ongoing treatment.

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What Types Of Blood Pressure Monitors Are There?

There are basically two types of blood pressure monitor for home use. They are aneroid monitors and digital monitors. 

Aneroid blood pressure monitors are similar to those used by medical professionals. They have a dial gauge where blood pressure is indicated by a pointer, and a cuff which must be inflated by hand. Aneroid monitors are easy to carry with you and normally come with a built in stethoscope. They also tend to be a little cheaper than the digital types. 

Aneroid monitors have a few disadvantages. The cuffs can be difficult to put on unless they come with a special metal ring. They are also rather complicated devices and are easily damaged. 

Some people find it difficult to squeeze the rubber ball that inflates the cuff. A further challenge comes to those who are hard of hearing. Using an aneroid blood pressure monitor requires you to listen for the heart sounds through the stethoscope. 

Digital blood pressure monitors are by far the most popular for home use. They are much easier to use than aneroid monitors. There is no need for a stethoscope since digital monitors are automatic and show the blood pressure reading on a digital screen. Some even have paper printouts to keep with your records. 

Some digital monitors come with cuffs that automatically inflate. Though these usually cost a little more. 

There are a few disadvantages to digital blood pressure monitors. Movement can cause digital monitors to give inaccurate readings. And if you have an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) readings may not be as accurate. Some digital models can only be used on the left arm. If this is a problem for you make sure you get one that can be use on either arm. 

Another disadvantage is the cost. Digital blood pressure monitors are more expensive than aneroid monitors. 

One further note. There are several finger or wrist blood pressure monitors on the market. They are convenient and easy to use. However, they are not as accurate as those mentioned above. They are very sensitive to movement, body position, and even temperature. Also they tend to be rather expensive.

Tips For Using Blood Pressure Monitors

Whether you choose an aneroid or digital model there are certain things to keep in mind when taking your blood pressure.

  • Take your monitor to your doctor and compare readings with those of the equipment your doctor uses.
  • Don’t take your blood pressure when you first wake up in the morning. Wait at least an hour.
  • Take your blood pressure before exercising.
  • Take your blood pressure at the same times every day.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after using tobacco, caffeine, or alcohol.
  • Rest several minutes (3-5) before taking a reading.
  • Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position.
  • Rest the arm being measured at the level of your heart and be still.
  • The cuff should be snug but not overly tight. You should be able to put one finger between the cuff and your arm.
  • Make sure your bladder is empty.
  • Use the same arm every time.
  • Place the cuff on bare skin.
  • Have your monitor checked at the doctor’s office once a year.

Home blood pressure monitors are an important tool for many people with high blood pressure. They can save money and provide a much more accurate picture of you heart health. 

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