You must not always go to your doctor’s office for your blood pressure (BP) to be checked. You can also monitor your blood pressure while at home. This is particularly important if your doctor instructs you to monitor your blood pressure regularly.
How to Use a Home Blood Pressure Monitor to Measure Your Pressure While Home
Before Checking Your Blood Pressure do the following:
- Look for a quiet place to measure your blood pressure. Listen to your heartbeat. Ensure that you are comfortable and relaxed and have your bladder emptied not long from then (a full bladder may affect the reading).
- Follow the instructions accompanying your monitor. Either roll up the sleeve on your arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothes.
- Rest in a chair beside a table for about 5 to 10 minutes. Rest your arm comfortably at the level of the heart. Sit up straight with your back to the chair, legs not crossed. Rest your forearm on the table and make sure the palm of your hand faces up.
- Put the arm cuff immediately above your elbow. Place the cuff about 2cm above your elbow to ensure that it can detect the artery in your arm, just under your skin.
- Stay still and quiet while taking your reading. Talking, laughing, chewing and moving can affect your reading. Ensure you don’t cross your legs as it will increase your reading too.
- Take either two or three readings, with them taking about 1 to 2 minutes apart. If your first reading goes higher than the next, ignore it and then take an extra reading. Immediately you have two to three readings, work out the average.
- Make sure to keep a record of your measurements. Your monitor has a memory that you can use to keep the records. You may record them on your phone, computer or paper/ notebook as well. Write them down exactly the way they appear on screen.
Why do I need to measure my blood pressure?
It is only by measuring your blood pressure that you can know if you have high blood pressure. Note that high blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people are not even aware they have it.
What affects a blood pressure reading?
Here are some of the things that can affect a blood pressure reading:
- Nervousness about taking your blood pressure or having it taken. This is known as “white coat syndrome.” Up to 1 in 3 people with a high blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office might have normal blood pressure readings away from it.
- The food or drink you consume before your reading. Even smoking affects it too. Also, exercising within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured might raise it as well.
- The way you are sitting. If you cross your legs and let your arm droop at your side instead of resting on a table at chest height, it can raise your blood pressure.
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