Control Your Blood Pressure by Checking it at Home

Blood Pressure self test

If you have high blood pressure, it pays to check it at home. Research shows that using a home blood-pressure monitoring system helps you and your healthcare provider more successfully control your hypertension.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 3 U.S. adults has high blood pressure. Half of them don’t have it under control. And that’s what’s dangerous.

High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the United States, along with other conditions like kidney disease. Each year about 7 million people die from illnesses related to high blood pressure.

Home Monitors

Monitoring your blood pressure at home is easy. A good home monitor costs between $50 and $100 at a pharmacy or online, and your insurance company may cover the cost. Look for an automatic monitor that doesn’t use a stethoscope for ease of use. Take your monitor to your doctor’s office to check it for accuracy. Your practitioner will take your blood pressure and compare it with a reading from your monitor.

4 Tips on Taking your Blood Pressure

  • Find a quiet place and rest for a few minutes, sitting in a chair next to a table. Your arm should rest on the table at heart level and the palm of your hand should face up when you take your reading.
  • Try to avoid factors like stress, smoking, cold temperatures, exercise, caffeine, and certain medications that can cause your blood pressure to rise temporarily.
  • Measure your blood pressure at about the same time each day, although your health-care provider may want you to take it more than once a day.
  • Record the date, time, and systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower) numbers and any special circumstances. The information you compile will help your provider to see if your medication is doing its job and to monitor any side effects.

Do you Know What you’re Looking For?

A healthy blood pressure reading is 120 over 80 or less. The top number, systolic blood pressure, is the pressure on your blood vessels when your heart contracts. The bottom number, diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure on your blood vessels when your heart relaxes between beats.

High blood pressure means the force of pumping your blood through your arteries is too strong. It’s normal to have a higher pressure some of the time, and one high reading is not a cause for immediate concern. You’re looking for an average over time.

A blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is considered pre-hypertension, and 140/90 or higher indicates hypertension or high blood pressure.

Not a Substitute for Regular Checkups

While home monitoring can be an effective and easy tool to help manage high blood pressure, it’s not a substitute for regular checkups, especially if your blood pressure is poorly controlled.

author name

Joette C. Hughes, CRNP, MSN

Joette C. Hughes, CRNP, MSN, is a certified adult nurse practitioner with The Heart Group of Lancaster General Health.
Education:  She received her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in nursing from Rutgers University. Hughes’ special interests include risk factor management, with a focus on patient education.

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