More than one in four adults have hypertension here in the UK. Many millions of us are, unknowingly, living with high blood pressure and leaving ourselves vulnerable to the serious and sometimes fatal health conditions that can lead to. Every day in the UK around 350 people have a stroke or heart attack that could have been prevented.
So, is it beneficial to regularly monitor our own blood pressure at home? The answer is a definitive yes.
Why test at home?
Home blood pressure monitoring is an effective and inexpensive way to keep blood pressure under control and the evidence behind it continues to get stronger. You can test yourself very easily and cheaply using a simple home blood pressure monitor.
Home Monitoring allows you to take control of your health in your own time. It gives you a practical way to monitor your blood pressure health without the stress of visiting your GP or pharmacist, and it really can save your life.
Around a third of people in the UK have high blood pressure, but most don’t know it. It doesn’t have any symptoms so, the only way to find out is to have a blood pressure check.
High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses. Once you begin to regularly monitor your blood pressure with your own blood pressure monitor you can start to form an understanding of the patterns your body is following and, more importantly, stop your blood pressure from going too high and protect yourself from these diseases.
How to Monitor your own Blood Pressure
- Place the arm cuff just above your elbow, ideally 2cm above your elbow to detect the artery in your arm just under your skin.
- Sit down with your legs uncrossed.
- Keep calm and still while you take your reading. Try not to talk, eat, drink or laugh while using your monitor.
- Take 2, or even 3, readings about one to two minutes apart. With 3 readings you can work out the average. If one reading is significantly higher or lower than the others you should ignore it.
- Keep a record of your readings. Write down your measurements exactly as they appear on the screen of your blood pressure monitor
How often should you monitor your own blood pressure?
It’s best to consult your GP or practice nurse before monitoring your blood pressure at home. They will be able to advise you on when and how often to take a measurement and how to recognise when your blood numbers are too high or too low.
When you first start using a home monitor, measure your blood pressure in the morning and evening, every day for a week.
At the end of the week you will have a useful picture of what your blood pressure is normally like.
Once you have a record of your blood pressure over a week, you can take readings less often – once every one to two weeks perhaps. Your doctor or nurse can talk to you about this, there’s no need to measure it too often.
If your blood pressure has been stable for a long time, you might only need to measure it once every four to six months. Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you and will probably suggest that if you change your medication you should increase your blood pressure monitoring for a while too.
The charity Blood Pressure UK* is a fantastic resource for information on monitoring your blood pressure and how to keep those numbers at a healthy level.
. * Info, stats and resources for this blog credit to Blood Pressure UK.
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