BP monitors can save your life. There are three different types of home blood pressure machines that are easy and convenient to use: digital, wrist, and finger models.
What is a normal blood pressure? Blood pressure should remain lower than 120/80. If it remains 140/90 or higher for a long period of time you have high blood pressure and should see your physician for further testing. When blood pressure is high the heart works harder causing the arteries to take too much abuse. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure. High blood pressure is known as the "silent killer" because there usually are no symptoms. Most people have no clue that they have high blood pressure.
What are the different types of home blood pressure machines? There are many brands and types to choose from. In fact, it can become quite confusing. Check with your doctor to see which type or brand he/she recommends. You can also do research on the Internet to find the brand with the highest level of accuracy and convenience. The best way to check for accuracy in blood pressure monitors is to take your monitor to your next doctor's appointment and check to see how close your reading is to theirs. There are basically three different types of home blood pressure machines that are easy and convenient to use: digital, wrist, and finger models. These are all electronic devices and are the most popular because they are so easy to use. No matter which type you choose, plan to spend thirty to over one hundred dollars for a good machine.
Digital (cuff) machines can be manual or automatic and they all have an LCD display. The manual monitors require you to pump the cuff yourself according to directions. The automatic monitors do this all for you; all you have to do is push a button and wait for a reading. When using these types of blood pressure monitors be sure to have the proper size cuff. Home monitors are usually packaged with a regular, adult sized cuff. Larger people should use a larger cuff or the readings will not be accurate. Larger cuffs can usually be ordered from the manufacturer.
Some people prefer to use a wrist blood pressure monitor because they are smaller and easy to use. These are very convenient but are more expensive than a regular cuff-type machine. There is a lot of controversy about how accurate the wrist monitor is. Some tests have shown the wrist monitor to be as accurate as any other type of device but other tests show the complete opposite. Your doctor will be able to tell you which type he/she prefers. A newer development is the finger monitor. With this device you place your finger in a plastic tube and wait for the reading. This method is not as reliable as other methods because the blood flow into the finger is much weaker than in the upper arm or wrist.
How do I read the results of my home blood pressure machine? Blood pressure is highest when the heart beats or pumps the blood. This is known as systolic pressure. It is lowest when the heart rests between beats. This is known as diastolic pressure. A sample blood pressure reading would be 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). The top number is the systolic reading. The bottom number is the diastolic reading. Blood pressure is also lowest when sleeping and tends to rise upon getting up. Blood pressure rises when you are excited, stressed, nervous, or active.
How can I be sure that my readings are as accurate as possible? You should sit quietly for at least 5 minutes before taking a reading. Don't smoke or drink caffeinated beverages 30 minutes before. Sit with arm supported at heart level. If you have your arm too low you will get an inaccurate reading. Take two or more readings, at least two minutes apart and average the results. Take your blood pressure readings at different times of the day, preferably morning and evening.If you ever have difficulty with your home blood pressure monitor get help from a healthcare professional.
If I have high blood pressure what can I do to lower it? Regular physical checkups with your doctor will help your doctor to regulate high blood pressure. Your doctor may suggest ambulatory monitoring. This is a portable monitor that you wear for 24 hours. The monitor takes your pressure several times a day and records the readings so the doctor can recommend further treatment. The ambulatory method is often recommended for people who think they might have white coat hypertension. In most cases, eating the proper foods, limiting salt intake, and exercising regularly can lower high blood pressure.