Our heart pumps blood into different parts of the body through blood vessels. The pressure at which the blood is pumped is called blood pressure.
The advancements in the medical industry have made it so much easier for you to ensure that all your health parameters are well in limits.
Now, you may wonder why regular blood pressure checkups are essential.
It is so because this self-assessment of blood pressure helps not only those who seem to be at risk regarding blood pressure but also helps people to gain insight regarding their health status and foresee any health issues that may befall.
Why Should You Monitor Blood Pressure at Home?
One in every three adults is at risk of developing high blood pressure or hypertension.
Thus, you must monitor our blood pressure at regular intervals. For you, to be able to do so at home, at your convenience, is just an added advantage!
Blood pressure monitoring at home is an essential tool for people who already have symptoms of elevated blood pressure or any other condition that could result in high blood pressure.
Keeping a tab on your blood pressure, while still at home, helps you save a lot of time, money as well as the hassle of going to the doctor/hospital repeatedly.
Furthermore, it helps you to take precautionary steps to stay healthy and fit. It also enables you to foresee any health issues that may be coming your way.
Get answers to 100 common blood pressure questions here.
Learning how to use a blood pressure monitor, also known as a sphygmomanometer, is a rather straightforward procedure. You can recheck your blood pressure immediately if in case you feel unsatisfied with your results.
Though blood pressure monitoring at home cannot substitute your regular visits to the physician; it can be treated as a handy way of being fully aware of your current levels and the improvement the body is making on a daily basis.
How to Monitor Blood Pressure at Home?
Being able to monitor your blood pressure at home has been made so much simpler with the invention of home blood pressure monitors.
These monitors have made it hassle-free to track your blood pressure in between the doctor visits. Using these monitors is no rocket science! It is convenient to use and easy to understand.
- Mercury Sphygmomanometer
- Aneroid Sphygmomanometer
- Digital Sphygmomanometer
There can be a slight difference in the readings between these sphygmomanometers, when compared with each other.
Also, the way they measure your blood pressure is different from each other.
The procedure on how to put both these monitors into proper use is explained below so that you don’t end up getting the incorrect reading.
A mercury sphygmomanometer works on a simple gravity mechanism to give accurate and consistent blood pressure readings.
It consists of a long tubular gauge which is made of glass or plastic.
Advantages of Mercury sphygmomanometer
- It can last for a lifetime.
- It requires low maintenance.
Disadvantages of Mercury sphygmomanometer
- It is bulky to carry
- It is not recommended for home use as it contains mercury which is hazardous
- It must be kept upright on a flat surface to get accurate readings
- Not suitable for hearing and visually impaired people
Note: Mercury sphygmomanometers have been banned by many countries for environmental reasons.
An Aneroid monitor checks blood pressure manually. It consists of a gauge that you have to read by looking at the pointer on the dial.
It also includes a cuff that goes around our upper arm, just an inch above your elbow bend.
The cuff has a metallic clip attached to it, which enables you to tighten it. Here, what you need to ensure is that your skin is not getting pinched while you tighten the cuff.
With the help of a rubber bulb, you can inflate the cuff by hand.
To monitor blood pressure, you must squeeze the bulb rapidly with the other hand till the gauge reads 30 points above the normal systolic pressure.
It is mandatory to rest the gauge in the open palm of your cuffed arm so that you can see it clearly.
Advantages of Aneroid sphygmomanometer
- Aneroid sphygmomanometers are lightweight, inexpensive and easily portable than mercury sphygmomanometers
- These type of blood pressure monitors have an inbuilt stethoscope
- The aneroid gauge can function in any position
- It has a self-bleeding deflation valve to improve accuracy
Disadvantages of Aneroid sphygmomanometer
- Monitoring blood pressure with an aneroid monitor requires a lot of coordination.
- You need to sit quietly for 3-5 minutes before starting to monitor.
- The aneroid blood pressure monitor is a little complex to understand at first. Further, it may become less inaccurate with time.
- It can be challenging to use this type of monitor in case the cuff doesn’t have a metal ring attached to it.
- Aneroid monitors are not suitable for people whose hearing is impaired. This is because you need to hear your heartbeat through the stethoscope throughout the monitoring procedure.
Digital monitors, without a doubt, are more user-friendly than aneroid monitors. They comprise of a gauge and a stethoscope, both in a single unit.
You just have to position the cuff on your upper arm and press the start button on the monitor. The blood pressure readings then appear on the small screen on the monitor.
Also, the monitor consists of an error indicator. The two processes involved are inflation and deflation. Inflation can be manual or automatic depending upon your monitor’s model, and deflation is always automatic.
Advantages of Digital sphygmomanometer
- A digital sphygmomanometer is the most user-friendly/easy to use
- It is ideal for those who have hearing or vision loss
- It reduces human error significantly
- Most of the models have automatic inflation and deflation systems
- It has an easy-to-read digital display and error indicator
- It can be easily portable
Disadvantages of Digital sphygmomanometer
- It is expensive in comparison to the aneroid sphygmomanometers.
- While monitoring your BP, you need to take into account that the results can easily be hampered by excessive body movements and irregular heartbeats too.
- It works on batteries which need to be replaced as and when they become weak.
You need to keep in mind both the advantages and disadvantages of these types of sphygmomanometers before choosing to make an informed decision.
Personally, I love digital blood pressure monitors for their ease of use and accuracy.
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Blood Pressure Monitoring Instructions
- Measure your blood pressure (BP) twice a day. First in the morning and then in the evening.
- Ensure to measure your BP at about the same time every day.
- Take your BP three times each time you measure. Wait at least a minute between readings.
- Don’t exercise, smoke, drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages within 30 minutes of the measurement.
- Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor for 5 minutes before taking your BP readings.
- Rest your arm on a table so that the blood pressure cuff is at the same level as your heart.
- Record your readings and use the blood pressure log below to note down your readings daily.
Maintain a log of your daily blood pressure readings to track your progress and sharing the information with your doctor.
We have done all the hard work for you. You can download the log sheet below to track your BP readings.
How to Ensure Accurate Blood Pressure Monitoring at Home
Choose Right Blood Pressure Monitor: It is crucial to choose a monitor that you are comfortable with. For example, some people find it difficult to understand an aneroid blood pressure monitor.
It is, thus, important for you to choose the one that is most efficient and delivers the most accurate results.
Time of Testing: The time of testing the blood pressure is also crucial in blood pressure measurement. It is always good to monitor your blood pressure levels between 7-8 AM in the morning or in the evening around 7-8 PM.
It is always advised to take rest for at least 5 minutes before measuring your BP. Make sure you monitor your BP at the same time to get the most accurate results.
Proper Body Posture: The position that you maintain while monitoring blood pressure can alter your results by 10% or more. Therefore, it is essential to maintain proper body posture while doing the same.
It is suggested to sit in an upright position with back support and feet on the ground. Your elbow should be placed such that it is at the same level as your heart.
Furthermore, it is important to take note of the fact that you must never take the readings with your sleeves. It is supposed to be over bare skin, to maintain the accuracy of results.
No Caffeine Intake: Never smoke/drink or even exercise in the preceding 30 minutes before measuring the blood pressure.
Consumption of caffeinated drinks increases the possibility of increasing heart rate, which further hampers the results.
Take Multiple Readings: Just to be sure of the accuracy, it is better to take more than one reading, always. It is advised that you take 2-3 readings, each couple of minutes apart from the other, just to be on the safer side.
What Does the Number in Your Blood Pressure Readings Indicate?
There are two numbers mentioned in any blood pressure reading. The top digit indicates the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction phase of your heart muscles. This is called Systolic Pressure.
Whereas, the bottom digit indicates your blood pressure when the heart muscles are in between beats. This is known as Diastolic Pressure.
For a normal reading, the Systolic Pressure range is from 90-120, and on the other hand, the Diastolic Pressure range is from 60-80.
What to Do if You Get High Blood Pressure Reading?
If you obtain a blood pressure reading higher than 120 Hg, then it is an indicator that you need to shift to heart-healthy habits.
Increased blood pressure increases the chances of heart disease or stroke.
If blood pressure escalates suddenly, then it is advised to wait for 5 minutes, and in case it remains high even after that, visit your doctor immediately as you could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
High blood pressure can cause severe damage to your blood vessels, arteries, kidneys, and eyes.
It can often be a result of your genes, environment, and the physical changes that take place inside your body.
You must take the prescribed medications on time to keep it under control. In addition to this, it is crucial to incorporate certain lifestyle changes to take hold of the situation before it runs out of your hands.
A few recommended lifestyle changes that can be incorporated in your routine are listed below-
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet (green leafy vegetables, walnuts, yoghurt, pomegranate, banana etc.)
- Reduction in sodium intake
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Reducing the stress levels
How to Choose a Blood Pressure Machine for Home?
To check your blood pressure at home, you need a home blood pressure machine. There are a few things that you should keep in mind while purchasing a blood pressure monitor.
1) First and foremost, make sure that your monitor is accurate and/or whether it has been clinically certified or not.
This ensures that the monitor has passed a series of tests that make sure that it delivers the desired results.
2) Secondly, you need to check that it has the right cuff size that fits perfectly. Neither too tight nor too loose. Extremely tight/loose cuffs can also contribute to hampering your BP results.
3) Thirdly, choose the monitor that fits your budget. Some monitors are very expensive but offer more functionalities and comfort and some are cheap but low on functionalities.
You need to strike a perfect balance of functions and cost.
4) Lastly, in case you go for a digital monitor, ensure that you keep it calibrated once in every two years approximately, for it to maintain its accuracy.
Check the best blood pressure machines here.
Precautions While Measuring Blood Pressure
- Use a larger cuff if you are obese or heavy-weight
- Use a smaller cuff for pediatric patients
- Do not place the cuff over clothes
- Flex and support your arm while monitoring your blood pressure
- Aneroid and digital sphygmomanometers require periodic calibration
Q 1) How frequently do I need to measure my blood pressure?
Q 2) What type of blood pressure monitor should I use?
Q 3) What is a normal blood pressure range?
Q 4) What is the best time to check blood pressure?
Q 5) Do I need to take medicines to manage my blood pressure?
Doctors prescribe medication to patients suffering from high blood pressure and advise them to keep taking them even if blood pressure stabilizes.
Medicines can prevent a further increase in blood pressure that may occur. Few lifestyle changes should also be incorporated along with medications.